Artist Catherine Tirr exalts the imagination

The atmosphere at the Emeritus College was transformed from an urban landscape to an eye-catching world of imagination on Thursday evening.

The acrylic paintings by artist and Emeritus College art instructor Catherine Tirr had been created over different decades and are now exhibited in Tirr's own solo show from Sept. 5 to Oct. 4.

At the art exhibition, Tirr used a great variety of colors, predominantly blue, green and red, and emotions that express her visions on canvas and paper.

A gallery visitor was able to see anything from colorful galaxies to steamy nature landscapes, some spotted with what looked like bubbles, corals and soft curvy waves, leaving the interpretation to the imagination.

Not only people from the area, but also her current and past students came to the opening reception on Thursday. 

“It is just exciting and colorful," said Tirr's current student Stephen Young. "It’s adventurous too. It really has a dynamic feel of a lot of movement.”

Former student and fellow artist Christine Waljeski was positively surprised by the work of her erstwhile art instructor.

"I love how kind of ethereal and organic they are; I wasn't expecting that," Waljeski said. "They have a really luminous quality." 

Many of Tirr's pieces were inspired by the play of different elements in nature and the movements of smoke and clouds.

“I have always had an interest in the layering process and how things sit on the surface, and things are hidden, and things are revealed," Tirr said. "What intrigued me about smoke following around [is that] in a way it’s sort of a barrier or vale through which you see the world."

"I think the fog does the same sort of thing, and what interested me was the way the fog was rolling up the canyon where I was walking and so it was revealing certain parts of the landscape and hiding others," she said.

Her work would not have been displayed without the aid of gallery curator Becky Koblick, who not only helped Tirr to organize the exhibition, but also to choose which pieces to showcase.

“I went to Catherine’s studio several times, and we would look at her work," said Koblick. "She has tons and tons of paintings in her studio. She would show me places that inspired her painting, and it just grew out of conversation, so we just kept revisiting, and we would pick paintings together. It was mutual deciding.”

Tirr has been working at the Emeritus College for about 13 years. She originally came from England and moved to the United States after receiving a scholarship from Cranbrook Academy of Art.

After receiving her education, she went to New York City, where she later met her husband, who works in the movie industry. As her husband’s career called for a move to the west coast, Tirr came to California.

In addition to teaching at the Emeritus College, she also has been seeking a teaching position at Santa Monica College.

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