Angela Manno’s Interplanetary Enterprise
Article by Marcia Darnell
Local Artists – September 2002 – Colorado Central Magazine
Few artists are good at business. Few business owners are good at marketing. Angela Manno is great at all three, which is how she’s able to spend part of every year in the South of France.
“Next year I’m having a one-woman show near Avignon, and will spend about two months there,” she says. “I was a French major in college, but I never expected I’d be doing this. I intended to be a French teacher.”
Raised in New York city, Manno attended Bard College in upstate New York.
“I guess it was fate,” she says of her art career. “I spent a year in France studying, and I was disenchanted with France. At the time they were very anti-American. So when I came back to the states I took some art classes at the San Francisco Art Institute, which is a fabulous institution. They allow people to just take classes. I wasn’t enrolled in a graduate program.”
Manno is one of that rare species, a self-supporting artist. She lives in Crestone about half the year.
“It was being in Colorado that drew me to landscapes,” she says. “In New York I worked in a studio. I was doing batik and photography. However, when I came out to Crestone, all the facilities I’d had in New York were gone.
“I had used a Xerox machine to heat transfer my images, and the closest one was in Pueblo. I had no studio, so I couldn’t do batik, so I thought, ‘Well, maybe I should just paint outdoors,’ so it was something I just did as a practical measure, and I’ve been doing that almost exclusively since ’92. So it was a direct result of moving to Colorado.”
Manno started creating landscapes and selling them to individuals and local galleries. In 1997 she yearned to go to France to paint the famous lavender fields. That’s when her business side took over.
“I was sponsored by a group of collectors, something I devised to allow me to pay my expenses,” she said. “I approached people who had bought my work in the past and made them an offer, which is that they could buy a painting in advance. That paid for my flight and my car and my room and board and I came back from France with 20 paintings. I called it Community Supported Art, like Community Supported Agriculture. I repeated that the following year in the San Luis Valley. I painted the Sand Dunes and around Crestone and took the surplus paintings to galleries.
“And it kind of blossomed from there.”
Manno is invited to show in France this year where she’ll be the only non-French painter to participate in a show of regional painters. She had a show in Sault last year, in the lavender fields area, an event that will repeat this year.
Her résumé in the states is impressive as well. Her work is in the permanent fine art collection of the National Air and Space Museum.
“In the early ’90s the curator had seen two of my works, which were Batik and color Xerox, that pertained to perceiving the earth as a whole system as seen from the astronaut’s point of view. Those two pieces were part of a 13-piece series that had traveled as an exhibition internationally. Two were shown in Moscow, where the curator saw them. She curated one for a show at the air and space museum and then indicated that she wanted it for a permanent exhibit.”
The museum, through sponsors, eventually acquired all 13 pieces, entitled “Planetary Citizen.”
Locally, Manno’s work can be found at Lucille Lucas Gallery in Crested Butte, Fox Canyon Gallery in Telluride, and at Firedworks in Alamosa. She also shows in New Orleans at Wyndy Morehead and in her studio in Crestone.
“I think I’m privileged to live in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet,” she says of her Colorado home. “And when I’m in France and people ask where I live, I can honestly say I live in a place that’s just as beautiful as the lavender fields, in a completely different way. They’re equally breathtaking. They have equal intensity.”
Manno likes sharing that intensity of place with other artists and art lovers. Although she doesn’t teach, she hosts a landscape painting class Sept. 9-13 by her former teacher, Chuck Ceraso. To enroll, call 719-256-4611, or go to www.slv.org/livingarts.
She also has a show of her own work in Crestone every year around Christmas. This year’s show should be quite interesting.
“These days I’m concentrating on plein-air landscape,” she says. Plein-air refers to a painting executed out of doors that represents a direct response to the scene in front of the artist. A plein-air style of painting — which disdained artificial light and emphasized the luminosity of natural light — developed mainly in France in the 19th century.
“I work in pastels, primarily,” Manno says. “I will select certain images that I’ve done in plein-air and work in encaustic, a Greek term for pigments in black. It requires a hot palette to keep the colors liquid. I work on a board that’s been gessoed and use special brushes, so they don’t melt. The colors have a very luminous and translucent quality.
“My major project is to produce 40 paintings for the show next year, mostly landscapes, some still lifes. My art dealer in France wants images of Colorado and people in Colorado like French images.”
In September Manno will be showing some space images in Genoa, sponsored by the Association of Space Explorers. (An interesting club. In order to qualify for membership, you have to have orbited the earth at least once.) She exhibited with them in ’87 in Mexico City.
“I would love to get more into the encaustic work and do orbital views of the earth. I’ve done some research at the archives of the air and space museum of the photographs from the Apollo missions and space shuttle. They’re very abstract and very beautiful. I’m hoping to do that.”
It seems the next natural step from national to international success is to go galactic.
To view Angela Manno’s work, log on to www.angelfire.com/co/ArtandSoul. The website has her work organized by category. Her studio is open by appointment, at 719-256-4611. Limited edition prints, posters and notecards are also available.
Marcia Darnell lives in Alamosa with her new sister kittens, Lily and Sophie.
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