Louise-Andrée Roberge, Sutton's "Atmospheric" Artist
By ManfriedHelmuth Starhemberg
Louise-Andree Roberge is known as an"atmospheric" artist. Her almost three dimensional work is light as spun cotton and vibrant with color and meaning. Her sculptures are literally floating in space sometimes, large and small whimsical creations of great beauty and a deep underlying humor which also shines out of their creator's eyes.
Roberge is a fun lady to be with. She tells a story well, does never brag about past awards, grants, recognitions. She does not have to. Since she moved to Sutton 11 years ago, her work has been in numerous exhibitions, can be found in many beautiful homes or on the walls up boutiques and even the local great cheese and sausage shop, Romeur Affamee.
Loise-Andree works out of a spacious home/studio on Pine street in Sutton. There is a studio upstairs and one in the basement and even in the living room a visitor will feel that it is first a gallery and secondly a place to watch television or use the computer. She was born in Quebec city 63 years ago but her parents moved to the Cowansville area where Louise-Andree fell in love with Freligsburgh and Sutton. Her two children (one girl, one boy) were raised in the area and thus she returned to her roots after having had studis in a variety of places in the Eastern Townships.
She started to paint at 12 years of age. "There was a youth center where a friend took me to and they had easels, paint and materials and the animator urged the kids to do "what they want". So young Louise started to paint and has not stopped since.
"I did get a formal arts education but then I had to unlearn everything because the things that were taught, while opening my mind to technique and color management, were just not my style. It was too formal", explains the artist. I"I just started to develop my own style but I did get good formal training in drawing from a Professor".
"Ever so often I tried part time jobs such as bar tending or waitressing to keep some money coming in but I am not organized well enough to remember where people sit. I also hate 'schedules", it stifles me". What she has gained from those experiences however shows in her work. She has done a number of pieces that depict bar scenes or dances, all imbued with an intimacy that clearly shows that she has studied the genre. What is so impressive however is that there is no sadness prelevant. Always, the paintings reflect the lighter side of people, the humor of the situation, a playful understanding of the undercurrents when a group of people meet or are in close contact.
This is the magic of Louise-Andree. Painings you do not get tired off. A friend of ours has a large painting about a night scene where people sit around a campfire in intimate discussion or perhaps listening to a story on of them is spinning. Every time I go to this house, I seek the painting out. Many of this artist's paintings have such charm that I never tire of revisiting them.
Then there are the sculptures. Mostly paper-machee, colored and varnished, these lovely creations lurk on staircases or float on the wall. One even hangs from the rafters of the downstairs studio.
Another lovely piece is this "travelling woman":
As for most artists here, the best way to show their work is during the annual "Tour des Arts". "It is really the only time in the year than any of us make any real money. I have done this for 11 years and many of my customers return with friends. Many of us spend half the spring time just to get ready for "the Tour" as it is the most important event of the season of its kind". She also attends arts festivals , like the one in Frelighsburg which has grown into a significant show of local talent over the past ten years.
Meanwhile, it's back to palette and easel, interrupted often by internet chats with one of her three girl grandchildren or a stroll through town.