a r t i c l e s
“Making Art is Linked to My Capacity to Feel”
The Karen Wray Gallery presents the Art of Peter Krusko
By Amanda Sanchez (October 2023)
a r t i c l e s
From 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 14, the Karen Wray Gallery welcomes the community to the opening reception for Peter Krusko’s Solo Art Exhibition. The opening reception will take place Thursday, September 14th, from 4:30-6:30 pm. And the exhibit will be available through October 12, 2023.
An artist and fine arts educator from New York
Before moving to Santa Fe 19 years ago, he enjoyed a wonderful 33-year teaching career in Westchester, NY. He was born in Yonkers, NY and received his Bachelors of Fine Art and Masters of Fine Art degrees from Pratt Institute in New York City.
When teaching and creating his own work, his focus has always been on the creative process. He said, “If the process is true, the work will be good.”
One of the important parts of the creative process is sharing your work with the public. “You have to exhibit your work,” he explained, “The exhibition is the end of the creative process.”
He sold his first piece of artwork at 17. It was an assemblage sculpture made from his father’s things around the family property, like an old wheelbarrow, wagon wheels, one of his brother’s toys. “It was taller than me.”
When he was living in Peekskill, NY, he was part of a collective gallery with 24 other artists. He said it was a great part of his development as an artist at the Upstream Gallery, Hastings on Hudson, NY, because the members went to each other’s openings, bought from each other and grew as a group.
Moving from the Hudson River Valley to Northern New Mexico has changed his work
When Krusko started painting landscapes, he drew a lot of inspiration from the Hudson River Valley near West Point Military Academy.
Since moving to the Southwest, a lot has changed with his work, especially the compositions and the colors. “I’ve worked hard to capture the scale of the Western landscape. The expansiveness. Back in New York things were much more compressed.”
When he met Karen in 2019, he sent her an email asking if she would represent his work and presented her with a portfolio and it was an easy decision to say yes.
His work captures the beauty of the Southwest, as well as his own emotional experience
“I’m not a plein air painter” Krusko said, although Wray would disagree since he does most of his painting outdoors in nature perched on a comfortable place that is part of the landscape. He does ten paintings every outing, working from sunrise to sunset. He comes prepared with 40-50 tubes of paint, mostly greens, earth tones and blues.
What sets him apart is that when he goes out, he is painting his emotions that day. It’s not just what the landscape looks like, but how he reacts to the landscape.
“This is my expression,” he explained. “It’s my language. I respond to what’s going on and this is how I express my emotions.”
How does he do that?
For starters, he keeps a journal, takes notes on the animals and does research on the area to really understand the emotional history and culture.
He is very immersed in the creative process. He said, “If the process is true, the work will be good.”
The creative process starts with being prolific — painting a lot often
During the warm months he goes out as often as he can.
The largest painting on display in Karen Wray’s gallery was actually the 420th painting that he did that year. Another year he did 1000 paintings.
When he comes back from a painting session, he saves the nine small paintings for the winter.
The creative process requires time to rest, contemplate and let ideas simmer and hibernate
During the winter he sorts through all of his work and makes plans for what to do next with them. He also paints his winter series, available on his website, where he captures the feelings of the winter, which is a time of contemplation and dreaming.
As an undergraduate student at Pratt, he spent a lot of time discussing philosophy with his contemporaries. But what really made his ideas real in his mind was teaching in the public schools and trying to explain his ideas to teenagers.
He emphasized the process.
He said, “Teaching about process is especially important when dealing with young students because they have a preset idea of what art is and they feel like they have to duplicate that in order to be artists.”
He tries to break them free of that mindset by reminding them to enjoy the process.
The creative process is complete when you exhibit your work
Krusko has consistently exhibited his work and has received numerous awards and accolades including:
- 3rd place in the 2023 New Mexico Watercolor Society Spring Exhibition
- Award of Excellence in New Mexico Watercolor Society 2021 Fall Show in Albuquerque
- Best of Show in New Mexico Watercolor Society 2019 Spring Show
- Ray Peterson Award of Excellence award at the Masterworks New Mexico 2019 Standard Fine Art show.
- More awards are listed in his biography.
The Karen Wray Gallery is the only place where his work is available in New Mexico. He also is represented by Images Art Gallery and Cornelia Cotton Gallery in New York.
The Karen Wray Gallery is located in downtown Los Alamos, at 1247 Central Ave, Suite D-2, Los Alamos, NM 87544-3292. (505) 660-6382.