by Melissa Glarner
Life takes you along, and a door suddenly appears!” says Charlotte Shroyer, as she describes the series of fortuitous events that led her to painting. Shroyer, a multi-media artist who dutifully honors her intuition and keen sense of adventure, has spent the last seven decades weaving together a rich tapestry of experiences.
Growing up in rural Ohio in the 1940s and ’50s as an only child, Shroyer learned the value of self-direction early on. Even as a youth Shroyer could not fathom boredom. Days were spent creating paper dolls, tromping through the Midwestern countryside, dabbling in writing, and learning to sew; somewhat remarkably, she didn’t pick up a paintbrush until college.
Unbeknown to Shroyer at the time, an art methods class at Ohio State University would provide her with a small glimpse into the future. “I purchased a set of watercolors and painted a scene from the Columbus Park of Roses,” she recalls. “I enjoyed the assignment, although I had no idea what I was doing!” she adds with a mischievous grin. Much to her delight she received an A-plus, and glowing words of encouragement from her instructor. It was the impetus that Shroyer needed to embrace painting as an exciting new means of expression. Although much of her early adult life was spent teaching and later earning a doctoral degree in language and learning disorders, the need to create was always present.
The beauty of a career in the arts, as Shroyer describes it, is most apparent in its novelty. Unlike the high-esteem positions she has held—executive director of a non-profit for the disabled, professor, and educational specialist—art never felt mundane to her. So embracing an innate eagerness to explore and learn, Shroyer eventually found her true calling, choosing to pursue the intellectual possibilities inherent in the creation of fine art.
Shroyer’s penchant for investigation reveals itself on the canvas. In her oil diptych, Split Personality, the viewer becomes witness to a fascinating internal dialogue. The cubist-styled rendering of several faces combined with a palette of muted seascape colors lends the composition serious psychological heft. It is a work that invites quiet contemplation, and necessitates a closer look at the dualistic nature of reality. Indeed, duality is a major theme of which Shroyer speaks when describing her work.
A voracious reader, her paintings are often expressions of the landscape that dwells within. In addition, extensive world travels including several trips throughout Latin America are meaningful discoveries she uses to inform her work. Hints of Mayan, Incan or Aztec culture inhabit many of her creations.
While living in San Francisco during the early 1980s, Shroyer enrolled in classes that taught silkscreen techniques and Navajostyle weaving. Her formal career as an artist is rooted in these two very important experiences. Around the same time she became disillusioned with her professional work and abruptly quit. “People talk about those ‘Aha!’ moments…well, that’s what I had,” Shroyer recalls. “I was blow-drying my hair, looked at myself in the mirror, and suddenly realized, ‘I don’t have to go to my job!’”
The silkscreen seminar offered Shroyer a chance to combine her sewing skills with her artistic eye. Soon after learning the craft she began selling handmade jackets and vests at art fairs. Now committed to creative endeavor, her weavings also became a means of supporting herself. Her weaving expertise allowed her to travel and teach workshops, market her handmade wares, and cultivate a life to which she had always aspired. She was finally stepping through the threshold of trusting her creative impulse; art no longer had to be relegated to the periphery.
Shroyer continues to weave the occasional pillow, and gives nod to her silkscreen background in creating her monotype prints. Constantly learning and experimenting, her days are now filled with painting, printmaking, drawing, writing, and weaving.
A Taos resident for 16 years, Shroyer’s work is currently exhibited at Jackies Trading Post Gallery on Paseo del Pueblo Norte, and at Laguna Gallery of Contemporary Art in Laguna Beach, California. Her works have been included in numerous juried shows spanning New York City; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Lexington, Kentucky. Among her accolades, Shroyer was honored with being named one of The American Juried Art Salon’s 2013 Emerging Artists, and as one of its 2015 Emerging International Contemporary Artists.
This autumn found Shroyer traveling in Scotland and France with her husband, while her artwork was proudly on display at an exhibit in Portugal. No stranger to the international art scene, she also will have a showing of her work in Italy later in the year. It’s quite marvelous to consider Shroyer’s evolution as an artist, and where her choices have taken her. The courage she has displayed in opening—and closing—doors throughout her life has culminated in much good fortune. Certainly for Shroyer, luck has favored the bold.
New paintings by Charlotte Shroyer are on exhibit at Jackies Trading Post Gallery, 311 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Her collections of gift cards, handmade baskets, Christmas ornaments, and small paintings and monotypes are available at Garden and Soul on Taos Plaza. Collectors also are welcome to visit her studio at 704 Zuni Street. 575.751.0375.
TAOS MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015