The UNLV Collection

Between August 2016 and January 2017 twenty four of my paintings were exhibited at the Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy Gallery, at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.  The official opening of my show was on October 11 and included a ballet dance performance and a showgirls costume display.  Videotapes of that event are currently being combined with other footage to create a documentary about the evolution of the showgirls phenomena from the classical ballet theater.

 

The above display of my paintings at UNLV shows the ballet paintings on the left and the Showgirls paintings on the right.

 

 

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 Introduction to The UNLV Collection
by
Robert Tracy, Ph.D.
Curator

UNLV College of Fine Arts

 

I first met Rita Asfour in January of 2016, and have since interviewed her several times.

After spending considerable time curating her private collection, I recognized that her artistic leanings are an accumulation of personal beliefs, customs, and knowledge. All experienced over decades. A fountainhead that took the artist a lifetime to discover.

How is it that a blank canvas ceases to be an image of nothingness once an artist like Rita turns her gaze on it? Where do these unabashed and bursting colors come from? How are these expressive and powerfully defiant brush-strokes applied? Her palette is a rainbow and her brush-strokes celebrate the movement of her dancers.

In a recent discussion with the artist, I asked if she was surrounded by art when she was growing up. I learned that in her home there were colorful paintings of beautiful women that were done by her father. Maybe that is where it all came from. At an early age, Rita must have understood that Art is not just the production of an object. Art is a way of life. Art is a way of finding oneself. Or, of losing oneself, in one’s own world.

Rita’s secret is that she is not driven by monetary success or notoriety. She does not paint based on a schedule or is bound by any kind of routine. Rita is first and foremost a free and curious spirit.

Rita prefers to work in her studio alone and in solitude. She works fast. Her momentum is her strength and her energy is pounded by impatience. Her studio is not messy so she always finds things quickly. She does not work from sketches but creates immediately from her heart. Her hand flows smoothly on the canvas to draw the correct proportions of the figures she paints. It is her courage to start and finish a painting without any physical sketches that is amazing. But in reality she must have these paintings in her imagination before she even enters her studio. Rita is at one with her studio. Rita races to put down her strokes before the vision she has is impacted by the phone ringing or the cats meowing or the dogs barking or the pot boiling. Once the idea takes shape, Rita would then go back in for the finishing touches. Rita told me she ‘knew’ when the work was done—she just ‘knew.’ The artist never agonized over when to stop making her marks on the canvas. She knew!

As I reflect and ponder upon the large body of work by Rita Asfour, I am amazed by Rita’s decades of aesthetic creativity and unrelenting drive to produce new works. This exhibit is but a small sample of the many paintings, sculptures, and jewelry, that Rita created over the years.

Rita Asfour’s legacy will be that of an enabled artist who never gave up on doing it – Her Way!