ARTISTS GENERALLY DON'T LIKE TO BE HERDED INTO A
school. However, the artists spotlighted here and on page 1 form a group precisely because of their un-group-like natures: They are all intensely individual, reluctant to seek publicity and therefore not widely known. Although they wouldn't mind being rich and famous, that's not what drives them. It's their overwhelming need to create that keeps them quietly producing elegant and dynamic art.
They have one other thing in common. They are all "Washington artists." The definition these days of a Washington artist? Someone whose work looks like it came from someplace else entirely. Cynthia Littlefield's work evokes her Arizona and Texas background; Donna Rise' Omata, born in Washington, uses ancient Japanese techniques; Emisela Hart brought her El Salvador palette when she came to Washington; Michael Franklin-White (see page 1) was born in London into a family of theater people and painters; and Peter Thrasher, a Washington native, paints in a way reminiscent of European masters.
Born in El Salvador, Emisela Hart has lived in the United States since graduating from high school. She received her formal art training at American University. Her intensely colorful paintings are full of Matisse-like shapes, but with sharper edges; the drawings of Rembrandt are also a strong and direct influence on her work. She characterizes herself as a colorist/expressionist and prefers to paint with a live model. Her studio is in Georgetown.
DONNA RISE OMATA
Donna Rise' Omata was born in Washington and grew up in suburban Maryland. She has formal training in art and an undergraduate degree from Friends World College in Huntington, N.Y. During college, she traveled to Japan to study, an experience that included a stint in a Kurodani paper-making village to learn the techniques. She practices katasome, the centuries-old Japanese technique for dyeing cloth and handmade paper. The paper kimono on the opposite page (a study for a cloth garment) and the handmade cedar-bark cloth piece, "Yao Noren," are examples of her work with natural indigo dye. Her studio is in Millersville, Md.
Cynthia Littlefield was born in Arizona and raised in Texas. Her formal training includes degrees in art from the University of Texas at Austin and American University. Her Southwest upbringing makes itself known in the light and color in many of her paintings. She begins a work with many pencil sketches and watercolor studies. Then, as she starts to paint, her works acquire a luminous and elegant surface, an effect that, though it looks simple, is the result of her careful and exact discipline. Her studio is in Northwest Washington.
Peter Thrasher was born in Washington. He has some formal training in art, but he considers his most important schooling to have been his apprenticeships with two experienced artists, Danni Dawson for drawing and Nelson Shanks for painting. His work is reminiscent of an earlier classical age, especially his still lifes, which call to mind the work of 16th- and 17th-century European masters. Thrasher's studio is in downtown Washington. CONTENTS PAGE CAPTION Michael Franklin-White is the scenic artist at Arena Stage and a free-lance designer. His training was in graphic and set design, but he also studied painting, ballet and architecture in England. At Arena, he is called upon to reproduce almost any place or thing and, most important, to an create illusion of those places or things in two or three dimensions. His studio, above, is at the theater.