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3:25 AM Mon, Dec. 17th

The quest continues - At 70, Bonnie Casey still searches for expression

From cats to mountains, cacti to portraits, artist Bonnie Casey's retrospective, "Walk with Me in Search of Expression," which opens at the Prescott Fine Arts Gallery Friday, May 9, represents more than 50 years of paintings and drawings.

It shows Casey's diversity of subjects and complexity of thinking throughout a long and fruitful career.

"This is a whole show of my life – not just bits and pieces like in other shows," she said.

But when Casey moved to Arizona in 1984 that changed. She began looking at such artists as Monet, appreciating his broken strokes and dabs of color and Casey, too, began painting with bright hues.

She also has a sprinkling of surrealistic-type paintings in the show – fish swimming outside their bowl, dolls teamed up as playmates, gumball machines spitting out plastic bracelets.

"There's a little weirdness going on there," she said laughing.

Colorful impressionistic landscapes and still lifes are present, too.

"As an artist, I'm always seeking some kind of expression, it doesn't matter the subject," she said. "If you paint what you want to paint, it's an absolute joy."

Casey paints with her emotions and her mind, she said, analyzing how people relate to nature, each other and animals.

"You don't paint how you see it, but how you feel it so people can see how you see it."

Casey is a serial painter.

"Since the 1960s, I've painted everything in series of five to eight paintings," she said. "I'd sell or give away all but two of each."

The paintings that she kept created her own personal collection, which most people have never seen and which she is now putting on display for sale at the PFAA.

One hundred thirty of her framed paintings are for sale at the exhibit, as well as another 70 unframed originals done in pencil or oil.

"I've shed my tears, but what sense is it hanging on to them?" she said.

The paintings are all less than $600, including giclee prints of her popular cat, "Fluffy" for $175. Casey's also giving a half dozen 16-by-20-inch photos of one of her paintings away as door prizes.

Casey has been very prolific during her five decades as an artist, painting thousands and thousands of canvases, she said.

"Art is about self-expression," Casey said, "getting to know yourself."

Painting has been Casey's journey to know herself.

Ever since she was 10, art has surrounded Casey; in fact, art has been her destiny.

"I never considered it wouldn't be part of my life," she said. "I feel compelled to paint. I've never had that feeling of getting tired of painting."

Casey has won a boatload of awards across the nation throughout the years, taught hundreds of students to paint and sold her own paintings to large commercial accounts, such as Exxon and Stewart Title, and to dozens of private collectors.

Her work is currently on display at El Presidio Gallery in Tucson, Wind–rush Gallery in Sedona and at Golden Nugget Gallery in Wickenburg.

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