Article from the Poughkeepsie Journal
Friday, May 4, 2007
Daily walks down to the Hudson River inspire Barrytown painter Lara Chkhetiani. But she is deeply connected to her homeland, the Republic of Georgia.
"There we have fourth-century churches, mountains, the Black Sea," she said. "There are grapes, citrus, palm trees; it's subtropical."
Chkhetiani, a classically trained pianist, sings in Georgian about memories of her country. She recorded the song, "Nostalgia," at Diverse Productions Studio in Poughkeepsie.
"Time flies, we are getting older, but our hearts never get older," she translated during a recent tour of her home/studio.
Chkhetiani (pronounced Chech-ee-ah-nee) will exhibit her abstract paintings in a solo show that opens today at the Tivoli Artists Co-op. A reception with the artist takes place Saturday.
Chkhetiani is a folk healer who channels energy and releases it through her hands. Trained in Moscow, she treats clients in her home and participates in workshops with psychic Alice Anne Parker at Buddha-Buddha, a former Tibetan Buddhist retreat center on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu.
Chkhetiani infuses paintings with her energy, she said.
"It just comes out automatically," she said. "I don't have to think about it."
The large, luminous paintings of water and energy are soothing to the viewer.
"They're just so pleasing and interesting and beautiful," said Barbara Blisko, who has four Chkhetiani paintings hanging in her practice, Healing Arts of Red Hook.
As inspired as ever before
The kitchen is where Chkhetiani, a grandmother who still wears miniskirts, paints and shares her heritage with guests.
"Sometimes I wake up at night and must come down here to paint," she said while removing from the oven a pan of khachapur'y. The savory, flaky pastry made with mozzarella and French feta cheese was served with a cup of hot black tea.
Tivoli-based country music singer Lisa Dudley, a client, collector and friend, said Chkhetiani's hospitality is almost as well known as her healing powers and art.
"There's always something delicious to eat," Dudley said. "I don't know how she doesn't get fat."
Chkhetiani painted the countertops and fixtures of her eat-in-studio in bold hues of red and purple. She shares a view of the Hudson from her easel with two pet birds and two religious icon paintings, which will not be in the show.
The artist's creative process has many layers. She begins by painting a canvas, then adds archival glue to which she applies and manipulates rice paper, thus capturing the texture of nature. She completes each piece by painting over the paper.
"That way you see through what comes from the back," she said.
Her bathroom is also a work of art, with painted mirrors and cabinets as well as her religious icon paintings.
"She reaches deep into her soul," Dudley said of the paintings. "She feeds us with her energy; she goes someplace very deep."
But the walls, furniture, rugs and curtains in Chkhetiani's living room are a cream-colored palette. The neutral tones show off the artist's bright, abstract paintings and one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces she makes by drying fruits, vegetables and flowers.
"That way you go right to the painting," Chkhetiani said. "I don't like too much stuff in here."
Reach Kathleen Wereszynski Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org or 845-437-4881.
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