Kate Protage

About the artist:

I’m a wanderer. Growing up, my family and I lived in more than 18 different places of suburban sprawl. As an adult, I shifted toward more urban environments, but I’ve continued the same pattern of movement. Despite my best efforts, I’ve never traveled light—the hobo’s stick from the fairytales is, in my case, a large moving van full of comfortable furniture, hundreds of shoes, kitchen tools that I never use, and boxes upon boxes of canvases.

No matter where I’ve been, painting has always been in my blood. When I was six, I made greeting cards for my family and friends. At nine, I painted a watercolor that my parents still have hanging in their home. I gravitated towards art throughout my education, and received a BA degree in Studio Art from Smith College, but soon after that I began a career in advertising and didn’t pick up a brush for the next decade.

Over time, I found my way back to my passion. Thematic ideas and flashes of the perfect composition crept back into my head until the desire to paint again became so strong that I began taking classes and set up a studio in my dining room. After rebuilding my portfolio, I set off for New York where I got an MFA degree in Painting with academic distinction from Pratt Institute. But the West Coast was calling, so in 2006 I moved to Seattle and set up shop. I love it here, and plan to stay for a while.

I’ve regularly shown my work at galleries in Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Princeton and New York. Here in Seattle, I’m currently affiliated with the SAM Gallery.

Artist Statement:

Urban Landscape Paintings/Drawings

I have a love/hate relationship with the cities in which I’ve lived. Depending on the time of day, there are two worlds that exist in the same physical space: streets that appear gritty, dirty and depressing by day turn into an environment infused with a strange kind of lush, dark beauty and romance at night. These are the moments that remind me to take a breath, look closer, and recognize that there is still beauty in the world despite all of the chaos that surrounds us. Painting these moments is, in a strange way, my minor act of rebellion.

While my work is rooted in the real, it’s the junction between sensation and fact that interests me. My paintings and drawings are meant to exist in that grey area between representation and abstraction, where light and solid form are given equal consideration and are almost interchangeable. The streets, the buildings, the sky, the cars – they’re almost incidental as recognizable objects. It’s the detail of an individual shape, an expressive brush stroke, and the way that everything coalesces into a series of value changes and textural rhythms that excites me. The moments may pass, but the feelings remain.

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