Kathy told me about Ellen's funky house, and I was curious about her art, so when she invited me to preview her Houston show, I went.

A steady flow of people walked up and down the driveway while I was there, but I was the only male. The garage / studio / apartment was gill crammed with art, and I spent relaxed time investigating each piece and overlistening as I wandered around the converted garage.

Ellen had done needlework for years. It showed. Tiny details sewn/glued in place on large CAD lined paper or small printed matchbooks had the texture of tiny obsessive quilts.
Most were lilting color combos, quiet pastels and gentle mixes. I liked those best. Some were garish, sharp and hard-edged, like the Minsky's collage. I wondered why she chose that, but other people's drawings are in many of her works.

Two assistants spend as much time helping her find the tiny objects that populate her art as actually putting them into their neatly ordered places.

Gradually I developed the theory that her art, literally themed by each piece's constituent objects, is about the small, the tiny, the delicate, the feminine. But it is the big picture, the grand scale, the busy patterning that grabs our attention, draws us in to the tiny details, where the glory is.
Ellen Frances Tuchman - Minsky's (detail) 2002 - mixed media on vellum


by J.R. Compton, January 2003

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