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Creative Pagosa: Cecil Touchon

Photo courtesy Cecil Touchon Pagosa artist Cecil Touchon in his studio. Touchon works in collage and as a painter and has established a national and international reputation in the contemporary art world.

Photo courtesy Cecil Touchon
Pagosa artist Cecil Touchon in his studio. Touchon works in collage and as a painter and has established a national and international reputation in the contemporary art world.

The Pagosa Arts & Culture Project is building a web-based directory of all the creative people and businesses in the community.

This website will make these MAKERS easier to find in online search engines and help share the wealth of innovative and talented individuals that call our small town home.

This sort of database is called “cultural mapping” and is being done by communities around the country in order to realize and recognize the value of their creative assets.

The Pagosa Arts & Culture Project is establishing the groundwork for continued collaboration and cooperation and promotional efforts of the combined community. The goal of the project is to establish a solid foundation of cultural and creative individuals and businesses, to create a viable plan for promoting these assets and to promote the Pagosa area as a worthy place of residence for creative people, a productive place for creative business ventures and a desirable destination for arts tourism.

At present, the PACP is planning an event for fall 2013. The event, the MAKERS Expo and Tour, is set for Oct. 12-13.

To register and be listed in the database, go to http://pagosaacp.org/Register.html.

In order to highlight the MAKERS in Pagosa, the PACP will profile its members, giving readers of The PREVIEW a sense of the depth and breadth of the creative community.

This week’s MAKER is Cecil Touchon.

Q: Tell us a little about who you are, where you were born, educated, your family, growing up and how you came to be doing your creative work?

CT: I was born in Austin, Texas, Feb. 7, 1956. My parents were both from the Dallas/Fort Worth area but my dad was in engineering school at the University of Texas in Austin and so they were living there when I came along. Through my father’s job hunting, we ended up in Saint Louis, Mo., by the time I started kindergarten, so this is where I grew up. My mother and younger brothers still live there. At the age of 21, I moved back to Texas and eventually graduated with a BFA from U.T. Arlington.

Q: Describe the objects you make or the creative work you do.

CT: I am a painter and collage artist. The imagery for all of my paintings is generated through designing collages and then enlarging them into paintings. My current work is based on using typography that is cut up and rearranged into abstract compositions.

Q: What is your favorite tool or material used in making your work? Why?

CT: My favorite material is paper. As a collage artist, the hunt for interesting papers is a key part of the process of creating one’s art.

Collage artists often work according to certain ideas that have to do with exploiting found material. The vast glut of paper materials generated over the last 100 years not only provides a glimpse into the history of the recent past but the ephemera collected often reveals a uniquely private history whose authenticity and genuineness is highly prized.

The subtle patinas gathered over the years by these surfaces add a great deal to the sensual quality of the collage works generated from them. The hunt for materials, to a great degree, determines the nature of the artist’s work and, in my case, I welcome the stimulus that becomes the impetus for new methods of construction and new compositional ideas.

Q: Do you have a regular routine or schedule?

CT: My regular routine is to work from morning till night. I get up early, drink some coffee, think about what I plan to do for the day and then set about accomplishing those things. I like to do a lot of research on early 20th century art, so will often have several books that I am reading and studying. I often refer to other artists’ techniques and ideas in my own work. As I am kind of like a Tasmanian devil (as in the cartoon) I depend on my wife, Rosalia, to help keep our little world in order. She is much better at that than I am. I get lost in my work. I usually don’t know what day or month it is without stopping to think about it.

Q: What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

CT: The best advice is probably that artists are not in competition with each other but rather compete against their own best efforts. One of my early drawing teachers told me this back in the mid ’70s and I still think it is true.

One of my other teachers back in those days would take our drawings and a pair of scissors and cut out a little section and throw the rest in the trash. Then he would say, “This part is good, forget about the rest of it and work like this.” Of course, we could not discern what he thought was good about the part he kept compared to the rest, but eventually it became clear. I suppose I also learned about editing from that practice — how to be discerning and how to abandon ideas that are not working. But then I later had another teacher who believed in keeping a good record of your trail. So that is important to me, too.

Q: When you’re not making art, what is your favorite thing to do in Pagosa country?

CT: My wife, Rosalia, and I are usually very busy in the studio preparing for exhibitions and hence do not have a lot of spare time these days. Watching the sun set on the Divide and spending time with friends are probably our favorite extracurricular activities. Because of the small community, Pagosa has been a great place to get to know other creative people and spend time with them. In the city you might know a lot of people, but everyone is so busy and distracted that one actually does not get to spend much quality time with friends.

To learn more about work by Cecil Touchon visit his website at www.http://ontologicalmuseum.org/.

This story was posted on May 2, 2013.