Cleda Curtis’ ‘From Portraits to Still Life’ Opens July 1 in Crisp Museum


UnknownCleda Curtis’ ‘From Portraits to Still Life’ opens on July 1 in the Rosemary Berkel and Harry L. Crisp II Museum at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus.

The public is invited to view the exhibition beginning July 1. An opening reception with an artist’s talk will be held at 6 p.m. on July 1. Curtis has selected five of her students, Zenon Duda, Renee Gordon, Ellen Hahs, Lynn Lancaster and Ann Ritter, to display two pieces each; one each as a part of this exhibition and one each to collectively exhibit as a part of Transition Spaces 16.2, also opening July 1.

The exhibit will remain on display through August 21. Admission is free.

Curtis is the first recipient of the Crisp Museum’s Southeast Solo Exhibition. The Southeast Solo Exhibition is given to a living artist in the southeast Missouri region who has produced a sufficient body of work, has not had a solo museum exhibition, and has made contributions of their time and artistic talent to their community.

“Before I start a portrait, my approach is to find a quality that is unique to that individual,” said Curtis. “I explore the personality of the subject and express it with paint. Capturing the spirit of the person is as important as painting a pictorial likeness. That is always a huge challenge. As an artist, I work hard to create portraits that speak both to me and to the viewer about the uniqueness of a specific individual.”

Whether working in oils, pastels or watercolors, Curtis creates her portraits and still life in the realistic tradition. Through her studies in museums, universities and private workshops taught by the nation’s leading artists, including John Howard Sanden and Daniel Greene, Curtis became a well-known and respected teacher. Her willingness to share her knowledge coupled with her sensitivity to the needs of her students has made her a very popular and successful teacher. She teaches the basic principles of painting and drawing that artists have used for hundreds of years. As did the masters before her, she believes in learning and passing it on.

Unknown-2“I draw on the rich traditions of great painters such as Velazquez, Rembrandt, Cecilia Beaux and Bougeureau to keep me growing
as an artist,” said Curtis. “I believe that all I need to know of the principles of art are to be found in the works of the masters.”

Curtis received her Bachelor of Arts degree in fine art from the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas and attended graduate school at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.

She has lived and traveled extensively in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, completing many commissioned portraits along the way. In addition to teaching art workshops across the country, Curtis has become a popular speaker and juror among art organizations. She published a book in 1988 called ‘Portrait Painting Simplified.’ Her portrait of U.S. Rep. Bill Emerson hangs in the Page School in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

She was accepted into the National Association of Oil and Acrylic Painters and in 2007 received the Award of Merit at the Best of America National Art Exhibit.

The Crisp Museum is located in the Cultural Arts Center at Southeast Missouri State University’s River Campus, located at 518 S. Fountain St. in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 1-4 p.m. on weekends and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the first Friday of the month. For more information, call (573) 651-2260 or email