Soho in Salida: Bright art from Marcy Misata

Article by Ed Quillen

Local Artist – November 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine

by Ed Quillen

Within recent memory, Salida was pretty much a lunch-bucket town. When the blue-collar jobs faded with the closure of nearby quarries and mines, so did a goodly part of downtown, with empty storefronts spread along First Street.

But Salida’s downtown now thrives with studios and galleries, among them Soho — the name of a London bohemian district, the arty South of Houston area in New York City, and since this June, one place to find work by Marcy Miata.

Mountain-town art generally tends toward the natural, but Marcy’s colors are bold, almost fluorescent, radiant shades not even seen in our sunsets or toxic-waste spills. Her lines may be fluid, but they’re also in-your-face brash. Many local artists focus on landscape or wildlife, but in Marcy’s work, you generally find people — sometimes a group, frequently individuals, perhaps just a pair of shod feet.

“I like painting people,” she says. “It’s like you draw energy from them, and you respond to that energy and start to feel it yourself as you put that energy on paper and convey it to other people.”

Her work reminds me most of Toulouse Lautrec posters, but it’s also been compared to Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, and van Gogh. Like the cubists, Marcy steps outside natural perspective to illustrate many facets of her subjects, and like Lautrec, she enjoys color.

Marcy’s art career started in Ohio, where she received a bachelor’s degree in art education from Youngstown State, and she also went to New York and the prestigious Pratt Institute.

She taught high-school art for six years in Ohio, but in 1981, her marriage fell apart.

So Marcy headed west with her two small children, Diane and Matt Csiky, and planned to visit her brother (Bob Mishata, owner of the High Valley Center in Poncha Springs) for two weeks.

“Two weeks turned into two months, and then I knew I had to stay here. I went back to sell the house, and I’ve been here ever since.”

At first, staying here as a single mother meant waiting tables, but she couldn’t abandon her art. She kept her eye in practice with award-winning photography, and found a job with Carl Wagner, casting bronze sculptures at his foundry.

She returned to steady painting a decade ago. “There wasn’t much going on in Salida then, artistically or otherwise, and so a group of about a dozen of us would get together once a week at Chris Byars’s studio. We’d all chip in to hire a model — sometimes it was whoever we could recruit at the Vic — and some would draw, some paint, some sculpt. It kept us all going.”

In recent years, Marcy’s work, although ranging from fine photography to sculpture, has focused mostly on monotypes, a technique she learned while apprenticing under Peg Corthouts of Coaldale.

To make one, Marcy applies lithographic ink, in a mirror image of what she wants, to a sheet of glass. Top-quality rag paper is then pressed against the image, and no more than three copies can be made.

Those don’t happen at the sitting, though. “When it’s time to draw someone, I have to get my own energy going. I’ll put on some music, and dance for a few minutes. That gets me loose and energized. Then I sketch the model from several poses and angles — it usually doesn’t take more than fifteen minutes — and I work from my sketches later.”

Marcy was among the consortium of seven local artists who founded and operated the F Street Gallery in 1991. After that ran out of steam in 1993, she and Paulette Brodeur rented the old Martin Shoe Repair shop on East Second Street and invested considerable sweat and elbow grease in the small dilapidated building. The result was “The Art Studio,” open on weekend evenings.

“Art is what kept Salida’s historic downtown from falling apart,” Marcy observes. “So many of these beautiful old buildings were in terrible shape before artists got hold of them. And now we artists are becoming the town’s economic base.”

Last June, she opened her second gallery, Soho, in partnership with Paul Martin at 112 East First Street. It isn’t just paintings — Soho boasts crystal balls, angels, sculpted furniture, even a reflecting pool.

“It’s a new working studio I really enjoy working in,” Marcy says, and it’s an attractive space. While she used to sell most of her work outside Colorado, primarily Florida but as distant as a gallery in Saarbruken, Germany, she now sees art collectors from all over the country coming to her Soho in Salida.

“It was a great summer,” she says. She didn’t mention any numbers, “but business was beyond my fondest dreams. I think quality galleries like Soho and cultureclash represent a wonderful future for Salida.”

As for her own artistic future, Marcy Miata (she uses the Czech spelling with the check mark over the s, but for simplicity, just signs her work “Marcy”) sees some changes in her own work.

“I’m doing more oil and acrylics these days as opposed to monotypes. My work seems to be getting more symbolic. And I’m even considering some landscapes.”

Ed Quillen helps publish Colorado Central, and thus writes about art and artists when necessary.