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Mel Strawn, Art World Icon, has Died

Updated: May 26, 2020

The Salida Arts community is saddened at the loss of one of the town's most beloved artists and our condolences go to his family.

Mel Strawn's work spanned more than three quarters of a century. He employed almost every type of media – painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and photographic-digital realms. He was a community leader locally and a trendsetter regionally in the Colorado Abstract Art scene. His work was regularly shown at Sandra Phillips Gallery in Denver and was featured in the hardcover book by Michael Paglia, Colorado Abstract, examining the establishment of abstraction in the art of Colorado during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His wife Bernice and son Ben are also featured in the book.

We spoke with Mel just a couple months ago for an artist profile. This is what he had to say about his work:

B and I have been in Salida since 1988. Since 1956 I had taught and administered in five different colleges and universities in Texas, Michigan, Ohio and Colorado. 

My "About Me" includes teaching for some 40+ years, including art history and all the studio disciplines. But it is always about an interaction with the world, including ways of thinking and doing and the discovery and making tangible a shareable work. And it is, sometimes frustratingly, about sharing.

Art is both a personal adventure and a medium of human communication, an important part of a culture. There is little in the world that fails to interest or inspire me. One, little discussed, is the world of ideas. For me, this has included the philosophies of life and art practice in Asian cultures, especially those linking calligraphy (regarded as sacred by some) as an innate manifestation of all a person is – including his or her physical and mental characteristics, My drawing is essentially 'calligraphic' in execution. My work is often what others call abstract, but has also been realistic. I have little interest in a personal style as such.

The Strawn family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Salida Council for the Arts on this website. We are forever grateful to the Strawn family for this gift.


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