Arts Visual Arts

Cover Artist: Ceila Reigle

Islands In The Sky I. Celia Reigle, artist

By Gina Malone

Sometimes it’s the twists and turns and the surprising places that life takes us that have the most profound effect on who and what we become. Celia Reigle remembers the fall of 1959 in Havana, Cuba, when her teacher gave the class the assignment to create a drawing for a contest for the city’s largest newspaper. The winning illustration would accompany a Christmas story in the paper. “As usual, on the day the homework was due, I had to scramble during my lunch break to get it done,” Reigle says. Weeks later, the assignment was not on her mind when she was called to the office. She walked there anxiously contemplating what trouble she might be in. “Imagine the surprise when I was profusely congratulated for winning the contest,” she says, “and was awarded the largest box of Prismacolor pencils I had ever laid eyes on. That was the beginning of my love for art.”

Nocturnal Dance. Celia Reigle, artist

Two years later, she found herself on a plane alone, escaping Cuba. When the plane landed in Miami, she was met by “a totally different country, different language and very tall people,” she says. From there, she went to the Pacific Northwest where she lived for 15 years. It is, she says, “a place where nature is involved in just about all of the entertainment, and the weather awareness was an everyday concern.” She marveled at the sight of the Cascade Mountains, the cold Pacific, the Oregon high desert and the volcanoes. “The sunlight was different in each place, the textures different, the evergreens awe-inspiring,” she says.

Although she had saved money all through high school to attend college, other detours lay around the bend. “One marriage and two children later, I was back in Miami working in the corporate world,” she says. “Despite working a 9-to-5 job, I still found a way to mix in—unrequested—a little art and humor by illustrating the weekly sales results at every opportunity.”

It was not until early retirement, however, and at her husband’s urging, that she took up a paintbrush again. “We attended an art class at a local high school,” Reigle says. “I found my long-lost calling. I sold my first painting, and shortly thereafter I began classes with two well-known, internationally recognized artists—which I have continued until today.”

Fruits II. Celia Reigle, artist

Her life experiences and her travels serve as inspiration for her art. “In my world, I paint what I see, not necessarily what is there,” she says. “I take a photo of moments that affect me for reasons that might evade me at that moment—whether it is a glorious landscape or an old man sitting on a park bench. I then try to sketch the vision as little as possible (to leave room to figure out what impacted me) on rich linen, on always welcoming canvas or the always loving and forgiving paper. Then, altering the acrylic to behave almost like watercolor, I start layering the colors, sometimes adding colorful inks, bits of nature, broken glass, found items and textures. The tools may be rough hardware paintbrushes, spatulas, my hands or anything I find, adding layer by layer until a diffuse riot of color takes form.” Sometimes she works on a series until she has exhausted all possibilities for the same image. “I paint to entrap the image in the colors I see in my soul, to let the now-changed image into my world,” she says.

Reigle still lives and works in Miami, but a move to Mars Hill by her son and his wife introduced her to Western North Carolina. “I come up to the verdant mountains around Spruce Pine every summer with the best excuses in the world: to be near my children and the art scene of Asheville,” Reigle says.

Out of Your Mind I. Celia Reigle, artist

Her work has been shown at various events and locations throughout Miami, including the Olga and Carlos Saladrigas Gallery, Miami Dade College and White’s Art Gallery, and in Barcelona. “Destiny has a way of pointing us in the right direction when we don’t see the road,” Reigle says. “The best example is Miryam Rojas. A couple of years ago, while traversing the galleries all over this region, looking for the right venue for my work, I stopped at Mars Landing Galleries, and she mentioned she would be going to Miami in the winter and would like to see my studio. She still features my work, and I am so grateful for her support.”

Rojas, founder and gallery director of Mars Landing Galleries, enjoys the responses that Reigle’s work elicits and the openness with which the artist receives these reactions. “To know Celia is to experience both a very outgoing and grounded human spirit,” she says, “yet her work evokes these deeply inward and dreamy, magical, ethereal spaces. She truly delights in each viewer’s unique take of her work, which speaks to her low-key and humble nature.”

Mars Landing Galleries is located at 37 Library Street, Mars Hill. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 828.747.7267 or visit Find Celia Reigle on Instagram @celiareigleart.

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