Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Studio Visit & Interview: Margaret Fitzgerald

Until about three years ago, Margaret Fitzgerald painted her colorful abstractions in her laundry room, a pretty remarkable feat, considering the size of her work and the average size of most laundry rooms.

In 2009, Margaret and her husband Ed (who happens to be one of Albuquerque's premier architects), bought an old service station that had fallen into disrepair, and they gutted and renovated it into its current state. (Ed received the 2010 and 2011 AIA Albuquerque Merit Award and the Jeff Harnar Award for Contemporary Architecture - Honorable Mention for Margaret's studio design).

The transformation of the space has been impressive, not only as a result of Ed's architectural vision, but also from Margaret's equally ambitious painting regimen, greatly enhanced by her newfound artistic liberty (mainly the ability to work on several paintings at once). Be on the lookout for her paintings in the near future both in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

The entryway to her studio south of Nob Hill.

The west facing patio makes for nice afternoon sunlight

Winter gardening

The front part of the studio, BIG walls for BIG paintings

How long have you been an artist?
For as long as I can remember I  wanted to be an artist.  For the last 15 years I have worked as a painter, making and exhibiting work.

Stretching canvas when we arrived...

Under the Influence (left)

Talk a little about your stylistic evolution; Have you always worked with abstraction or was that something that you evolved into?
When I was young I drew constantly. In college and for many years afterward my main interest was the figure. So the abstraction grew out of this figurative base.

Some new works on paper she pulled out to show us.

Your painting approach seems really intuitive and it is evident that your process is key to understanding the context. Can you explain a bit about specific techniques that you use to during the creative process? What roles do construction/deconstruction play in determining the outcome of a piece?
In the past few years I have been exploring motion in my paintings through the use of composition, form and color.  With the push and pull of the paint I hope to find abstracted forms that suggest something familiar. With each painting I want to dig deeper, to move beyond the limitations of words and evoke an emotional response. I want to catch a glimpse of the intangible human experience. 


Escape (right)

Heading into the studio.

Do you create sketches or does the nature of your work allow for spontaneity and flexibility?
I don't usually work from sketches. I start with an idea or some notion of what I'm after. I work on a number of paintings at once so the ideas evolve from one to the other.

Can you explain a little about your incorporation of text into some of your works?
The text in my paintings come from something I've seen or heard or am feeling at the time. It is also a compositional element in the work, anchoring a corner, etc.

Works in progress that will be part of her solo exhibition at LewAllen Contemporary Santa Fe (Downtown Location) May 4 - 27th.  

The vast majority of your work is very large. Do you feel that the scale plays an important role in the creative process? Do you feel limited or confined by smaller works?
I prefer to work large. I feel I can explore my ideas more fully on a larger canvas. I like applying the paint in bold gestural forms and the surprises that can come from that. Smaller paintings involve a different approach and so shifting from large to small can be challenging.

The process

Although you primarily work in oil, do you create work using any other media? Are there any processes/mediums you'd really like to experiment with?
Sculpture is an area I would love to explore. I have an idea for a series of organic forms. But am only in the thinking stage at the moment.

Older works in storage

So now that you're in your "new" space, has that effected the way to make work?
The studio has opened my work up in many ways. I can now work on many large paintings at one time. And I am able to get back and look at them from a distance. The space is inspiring and uplifting, I look forward to coming into the studio to work.

Smaller pieces going to the gallery

Any favorite artists or people you're inspired by?
Probably my favorite artists are Antoni Tàpies, Julian Schnabel and Susan Rothenberg.

How do you think Albuquerque ranks with respect to the arts?
Albuquerque has a very rich artistic community. I have found that the artists here are very supportive of one another. 

What's the best part about being an artist in Albuquerque?
Albuquerque is a great place to produce art, I think, because it's a place that feels very unfinished, leaving room for new ideas and exploration. 

Other than your solo show at LewAllen in May, do you have any other projects on the horizon?
I will be in a group show in Albuquerque at Exhibit 208 in March.

Come and examine the numerous complexities of El Salvador for yourself, on display in New Mexico Showcase thru the end of April.


  1. Just saw some of Margaret's work at a wonderful gallery in Laguna Beach and instantly loved it. Thanks for this interview!


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