Elaine’s paintings are like incarnations of an idea that transitions between gestation, birth, youth, and age. Like a living being, her canvas metamorphoses as she takes advantage of her opportunity to insert “do overs,” “take backs” and “turn arounds” at will – so much so that when she finally rolls up her work and calls it finished, there have been three, four or more paintings that have lived on the canvas. Abstract to be sure, creatively colorful in mysterious ways, Fischer’s paintings reveal a story about a woman with passion tempered by intellect, unrestrained, honest, and despite her boldness – a little vulnerable.
Fischer grew up the daughter of an architect and a member of an artistic family in Pittsburgh, Penn. By her own account, she enjoyed a privileged childhood filled with encouragement, opportunity and lots of support, all of which helped her find her own artistic voice at a tender age. In kindergarten, her teacher mounted her drawings over the picture on the calendar that was used to teach the children the days, months and years by which we measure time. When she was 9 years old, Fischer was selected to participate in a program at the Carnegie Institute for gifted, young artists. She remained in the program until she graduated high school, often called upon to demonstrate her technique to the 300 other students in the class.
In high school Fischer won state and national awards at a Scholastic Magazine Art Contest and had the good fortune to work under the tutelage of some extraordinary art teachers. In 1972, she enrolled in the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design where she discovered a passion for working with ceramics, majored in sculpture and graduated four years later with a bachelor of fine arts degree.
After college she moved to New York City to be near her uncle, artist Philip Pearlstein. Pearlstein’s stature as an internationally known artist brought Fischer’s within one degree of separation from artists like Rob Indianas, Alex Katz, Al and Silvia Held, and Andy Warhol. She was also absorbed and fascinated by Pearlstein’s own extensive, private collection of contemporary, pre-Columbian and Greek art.
For five years Fischer lived the starving artist life in New York, working retail and dressing windows at Gimbles department store, "eating on the cheap" until she made a trip back to Pittsburgh to visit her family. It was on this trip that she met Mark Fischer, the man who would become her companion and husband and who brought her to the West.
Mark encouraged Fischer to continue her artwork but also put the political bug into her ear. Like many before them, the couple was captivated by the beauty of the area and established themselves in Telluride.
After Mark’s unexpected death in 1987, Fischer felt so much support from the Telluride community that she not only decided to stay, but she also began devoting her life to public service. Fischer, who is currently a San Miguel County Commissioner, also served on the Telluride Town Council, as mayor of Telluride, chairperson of HARC, and president of the San Miguel Pre-school Association. Though she continued to focus on serving the community that had supported her so lovingly during the difficult year following her husband's death, there was an unrelenting desire calling her back to her first love. Fischer took a job at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art just to be near art once again.
Then three years ago Fischer received the absolutely perfect Christmas gift, a class at the Ah Haa School for the Arts where she studied with the well known painter Robert Weatherford. This association with Weatherford rekindled Fischer’s passion for art and provided the encouragement she needed to express herself as the artist once again.
Around that same time she heard an announcement on KOTO that the Telluride Council for the Arts and Humanities was opening Stronghouse, a cooperative studio space for working artists.
One of the first artists to sign on, Fischer is also one of the most prolific artists at Stronghouse. She is there almost every day. Fischer says of her work, “I’m not trying to make a pretty picture. I don’t want my work to be comfortable; I want it to make a statement, to tell a story that is moving or surprising.”
Fischer’s new show is opening at the Stronghouse Gallery on Thursday, Aug. 7, as part of the TCAH August Art Walk. Come in, enjoy some appetizers and a glass of wine and see Fischer’s evolutionary work for yourself.
-Watch Staff Reports