story: Sandie Tillery
BEV CORFORDS PASSION FOR ART
Al Pacino, playing a blind character in “Scent of a Woman,” expressed the sensuous rapture of dancing with a beautiful woman… their movement on the dance floor, their elegant oneness with each fluid step, the very fragrance of her being. True artists feel similar sensuality throughout the process of creating. Bev Corford often feels her canvas calling her, keeping her through the night, a passion welling up and spilling out as the brush moves on her canvas. The paint flows and bends, her mind and body at one with the image emerging.
She defines herself as an abstract expressionist. Her passions were awakened during the mid-twentieth century American art movement that was “primarily concerned with the spontaneous assertion of the individual through the act of painting,” according to Encarta Encyclopedia. Her journey began with jewelry making—gold and silver rings often entangled with pearls and gemstones—the product of a process called lost wax casting. When she retired from teaching at age 55 with plaguing autoimmune health issues, the forced slowing of her activities opened new opportunities to do what she had always encouraged her kindergarten students to do: explore, experiment, create outside the lines.
Now a prominent fixture in the North State art community, Corford has more than dabbled in a full range of artistic media. Though she has not had any formal training, she lauds the “great teachers” at Shasta College where for the past nine years she has taken one class each semester. With the confidence of one who knows herself well, she makes no bones about the fact that she was born an artist. The instructors and the courses have given her tools and techniques to apply and opened new ways for her to explore. Her paintings, assemblages, collages and printmaking can be found in businesses and galleries in Chico, Weaverville, Mount Shasta and Redding. Her prolific body of work is represented in two overstuffed portfolios with photos of her artwork, news stories and programs where her work has been spotlighted.
Corford has favorite works that, in describing their evolution, still bring her to an emotional edge, a glow of excitement. A few pieces permanently fill wall space, gifts for her engineer husband, like the straight-line oil painting in vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red and the linear, angular assemblage that feels very “engineered.” Some she keeps for herself just because, including an abstract watercolor with blended swirls of red and orange against a sunshine yellow background eliciting again, as she describes it, a shiver of joy as she remembers its creation.
She credits much of her early inspiration to her first art teacher, Barbara Enochian. Along with Enochian and others who began their artists’ journeys in a group called Downstairs Painters, Corford traveled to galleries and museums throughout the United States. She recalls the time spent viewing the works of great artists “wonderfully stimulating.” On a recent excursion by train from California to Colorado and back again, with husband Bert, who is Corford’s chief encourager and constant traveling companion, they took countless photographs of rock formations, shadows, clouds, sunsets, snow drifts. She smiled about the joy of sharing the adventure with Bert. They primarily spent time in art museums at each stop, gathering ideas, enjoying the works of other artists who “free me to not be afraid to try something different.”
“I feel a real sense of gratitude that I am able to do art at this time in my life.” Though her health issues have slowed her down, they have also “given me time for the things that are important to me.” Even swimming, exercise necessary to manage her health, inspires and energizes her art as reflected in a series of watercolor paintings that capture natural light reflected and refracted underwater.
Corford is a member of Art Salon, a group of artists who encourage and support one another, share ideas, and find venues for exhibiting their work. She also belongs to North Valley Art League, Shasta County Arts Council, Highland Art Gallery and the American Association of University Women, all organizations that have given her opportunities to share her art and her passion within her community.
Bev Corford’s work will be featured at Tapas Downtown, 1257 Oregon St., during this month’s 2nd Saturday Art Hop on August 8.