News Column

One artist's journey from Grenoble to Adirondack thistles

July 3, 2014

By Robin Caudell, The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

July 03--KEENE VALLEY -- Today marks artist BÉatrice Bardin's debut at the Corscaden Barn Gallery in Keene Valley.

But she's no debutante to the gallery world as a veteran of Chelsea-studio happenings with her late, dear friend, artist/actress/author, Ultra Violet, a Warhol Superstar.

The watercolorist/printmaker was featured in solo exhibitions for each medium in 1998 and 2007 respectively, and she's been selected for many juried and group shows. Bardin's art is held in many private collections in the United States, Europe and beyond.


"Tree of Life," a 2010 watercolor, is one of the works on exhibit during the month of July at the Corscaden, which features contemporary paintings by Zack Lobdell, Cinda Longstreth as well as ceramics by Cheryl McFadden.

A mystical rendering of the iconic theme, Bardin's pink-violet-purple-brown pigments are shot through with gold-leaf text, in her native French, which she excerpted from Paul Éluard's prologue of La PoÉsie du PassÉ.

The translated passage expresses best her feelings as an artist.

"We are born of one another. We maintain our name, our ambition, our hope ... We are more certain of the limited past than of the boundless future ... All has changed and all will change, but we must always melt the language of reality and that of the imagination, the possible and the hope, see clearly beyond, clearly within ourselves, reflect, express ourselves, act and be happy."

"My house is in the trees," said Bardin of the Keene Valley home she shares with her husband, Wayne Bardin, a Texan by birth and a scientist by training.

"That's a recurrent theme in my work. From there, I have to put in that text. It's in watercolor. I always work on paper or a natural product like wood. The tree of life you can see the tree but it's superimposed."

The calligraphy, free hand, is written several times.

"So, you have different styles of writing," Bardin said. "Each time it's written in a different color, it acquires a depth, a life of its own. It's visually alive."


Another calligraphic work, "B on Makore," is an exploration of varied printmaking techniques on diverse papers and surfaces.

"Makore is an African word, the name of the tree used for veneer," Bardin said. "It has a look of a redwood but a moirÉ sheen to it."

"B on Makore" is a 14-foot long, screen-like work comprises 11 veneer panels mounted in pairs on Japanese paper. Each panel is a singular expression or an amplification of each other when placed together.

"Having been inspired by the Chinese calligraphy exhibition at The Met, I took one character and repeated it again and again and again. Why B, because I'm B."

She retrieved her panels from a dumpster dive.

"Someone was doing a renovation and didn't need that," she said. "I mounted them two by two."

"B on Makore" is a large work and is "Tree of Life," which measures 40 by 50 inches.

"Martha knew my work, and she knew it wasn't small," Bardin said. "She gave me 35 feet of wall, so it fits."


After a successful Wall Street career, she pursued her childhood passion of art.

"I always wanted to be a painter," Bardin said. "My sister found a book of my things. I am 8 years old, and I'm just fascinated with color and how you translate light into color."

At 17 and about to enter college, she received parental advice.

"My father said, 'An artist is not a career, and if you ever need to support yourself, be sensible girl.'"

At Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Grenoble, she majored in economics and finance.

"To deal in finance and anything, you have to have the mind that will create the view for people to see the way you want them to see and they have to buy that view," Bardin said. "Many people ask me, how can you be an artist? It takes a good artist to work on Wall Street. Money is a product that is sold on Wall Street. In order to attract buyers, you have to present it in a way that is new. Irresistible. It was interesting. It was fun."


She made enough money selling the Banana and former Soviet-block republics to support three children.

When she got hitched to the Texan, their travels here and there did not agree.

"I said, 'You're the star. I will find something else.' And, that's when I started painting again."

Bardin studied painting and printmaking at the National Academy of Design. In the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Member Workshop, she learned stone lithography.

Her latest muse are wild thistles of Keene Valley. She was taken with one, very tall, candelabra-like plant.

"I just thought that is just fabulous," Bardin said. "When they fade, they turn a silver gray, so I started sketching it. I started painting it and from there I drew a triptych, 'Thistle 2, 3 and 4.' It's almost an abstraction of the thistle. I start with something that is exactly what is out there, and it morphs into abstraction."

Email Robin

IF YOU GO WHAT: Corscaden Barn Gallery July Art Show 2014 featuring the works of BÉatrice Bardin, Zack Lobdell, Cinda Longstreth and Cheryl McFadden. WHEN: Opening reception is today from 5 to 7 p.m. WHERE: Corscaden Barn Gallery, 58 Beers Bridge Way, Keene Valley. The gallery is located 1.5 miles south of Keene Valley on Route 73. PHONE: 576-9850


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