Tracy Strauss and Brad Slaugh, one of the artist couples featured in Carol Fulton’s article in this month’s edition of 15 Bytes, will be showing at the end of March in the Poor Yorick open studio event. In this 15 Bytes Extra, Carol takes a closer look at this unique artist couple.
by Carol Fulton
Straussy, as Brad Slaugh affectionately calls Tracy Strauss, has been with Brad for just about nine years. Before she met him, she remembers noticing and admiring works by students of his. She thought so well of them that she enrolled in one of his classes. Then she rented one of the spaces he provides at Poor Yorick Studios. One thing led to another, they married and now they have a 4-year old girl named Sophie.
Early on in their courtship each recognized that the other was exploring a similar style and so began to share a larger studio.
Both are aware that many people see their work as imitation of each other, and feel a bit annoyed by that comparison. Before they met, Tracy was working with blind contour drawing and really enjoying it. Brad’s style was already very much going with distorted, fish-eye lens sort of images.
Brad sees Tracy as having a broader base of talents than he (she also does beautiful ceramic pieces that are both utile and artful). Her work has a more classic beauty, he says, while he works from a narrower skill set – he’s more of a “grease-monkey.”
What he means by that is best explained by Tracy in her description of a recent show of theirs in which they both painted the same subject matter, but from different angles, and definitely with their distinctly separate aesthetic view points. In one of the paintings in that exhibit, Tracy, wanting always to capture the beauty in things, omitted the dirty finger marks on the door in the background, and left out the tape markers on the floor, while Brad included everything that was there.
As I interviewed them, an interesting side-conversation went on between Brad and Tracy when she described him as a purist and he expressed surprise. This is the thing common to all the couples who were interviewed for this 15 Bytes issue. Art is a subject that is never tiresome to these couples. In Brad and Tracy’s case, they constantly look to each other for advice, trusting the input but not always agreeing with it. Brad’s statement that, “it’s not hard to get along as artists” is supplemented by Tracy’s remark “it’s harder in a personal relationship.”
Their advice for other artist couples is to keep life as simple as possible, be flexible. Life always has complications – financial struggles, children, work-schedules cause the art routine to ebb and flow. Their ‘holy grail’ is to eventually have a structured routine impervious to interruptions but they also know that there are risks to completely focusing on art work, like forgetting to feed their adopted studio cat.
The next biannual open studios event at Poor Yorick, where you can see work by both Tracy and Brad, will happen on the last weekend in March.
Carol Fulton got her degree in radio and television production a long time ago. She was born in Brazil and lived in many countries. Now retired from the airline industry, she dabbles in oil painting and found-object sculpture.