Catch “Robert Carabas on Rothko” on July 14th, from 6:15PM to 6:45PM during Sonora’s 2nd Saturday ART NIGHT
When Stage 3 Theatre announced the coming of “Red” by playwright John Logan, Central Sierra Arts Council’s choice of artists for the Stage 3 Theatre lobby was clear: Robert Carabas. A widely respected contemporary artist, Carabas is collected worldwide. The play “Red” offers a tight focus on America’s genius abstract artist, Mark Rothko, in a gripping story of an aging Rothko who is forced to confront his mortality, his relevance as an artist.
Mark Rothko has been a strong influence on Carabas’ work. Like Rothko, Carabas’ paintings are massive, bold and energetic. His use of color and layers of paint interject strong emotions and challenge the intellect.
“Many people express confusion about the significance of abstract art,” one of our volunteer curators comments. “Rothko’s work appears simple. But, as the play “Red” strongly indicates, his intensions were much more complex.” In an effort to help the public have deeper insight into the artists and the play, Carabas will give a brief presentation about Mark Rothko on Saturday, July 14th, during the July Sonora 2nd Saturday ART NIGHT. Beginning at 6:15pm ART NIGHT visitors can attend this brief discussion for free. The performance of “Red” will begin at 7pm.
Carabas didn’t always have paintbrushes in hand. In college, a basic art class helped him realize how much he enjoyed art. But responsibilities and his family came first. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Carabas worked in the glass canyons of downtown San Francisco, as a researcher for corporate development and later a credit manager. To find an ounce of relaxation and creativity during his workday, he picked up a sketch book. During lunchtime at the famed Caffe Trieste, he quietly drew faces, figures. Then everything shifted when Carabas became disillusioned with his corporate job. With his family’s support, he jumped that ship, and dove into the art ocean.
Oakland’s College of Arts & Crafts soon pulled him to the painting studio where Carabas quickly felt the magnet of abstract art. “In representational works, the artist strives to create an identifiable image in a given style” Smith outlines. “But the abstract artist delves into ideas, emotions, the interaction of line, color, shape.” Carabas addresses the artists’ need to first solve the medium by understanding its strengths and limitations. “I paint 10% of the time. The 90% is spent standing back to discover what is working,” Carabas notes. “I try to help the painting come to fruition by studying it.”
Carabas first worked in oils with its complex chemistry of linseed oil, pigment and solvent. Later he switched to acrylics, and his journey to solve the medium began again. In 1985 an invitation to attend the acclaimed Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine, turned Carabas’ work upside-down. Initially concerned with the precious nature of paint and canvas, he let go of worries about the cost, and painted on large pieces of cardboard with house paints. He was free to express his artistic power on a radical scale in a spacious environment. Then Skowhegan faculty artist Mary Heilman urged him to let his emotions loose! She guided him to transcend time and bring deeply personal resonance to his work.
During a Bay Area open studio tour, UC Berkeley’s art history Professor Emeritus Peter Selz visited Carabas. Selz included Carabas in a show of “17 Bay Area Artists,” which led to a positive review in the SF Chronicle. In a short time his paintings were shown in San Francisco’s acclaimed Gallery Paule Anglim, which shows some of America’s best known contemporary artists.
In 1999, Robert and Leslie Carabas moved to Tuolumne County. Leslie is a renowned abstract quilting artist. A devoted husband, father and grandfather, Robert explains, “We have lived our lives to support each other; to allow us to break away from traditional ideas of art and creative endeavor.” Their home echoes these words–an artful space of light, grace, friendship and living close to nature. Somewhere in this mix, Carabas has unearthed his own artistic story.
This collaboration between Stage 3 Theatre and CSAC began in December 2010 when we were invited to curate the Lobby Gallery at our neighbor theatre. Carabas is the 17th local artist to participate in Central Sierra Arts Council’s curatorial project at Stage 3 Theatre. Carabas’ paintings will be on view in the Stage 3 Theatre Lobby throughout the run of “Red.” For information on tickets, visit www.stage3.org or call (209)536-1778.