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Color explosion! Tom Sage presents seven works at Ascendo Coffee 

Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinski claimed, "Color is a power which directly influences the soul," while Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde posited, "Mere color can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways." Seven new works by Tom Sage on display at Ascendo Coffee (974 Monterey St., SLO; open for takeout daily until 2 p.m.) seem to have taken both sentiments to heart.

click to enlarge THE ARTIST AT WORK Los Osos artist Tom Sage puts the finishing touches on one of his colorful abstract works. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TOM SAGE ART
  • Photo Courtesy Of Tom Sage Art
  • THE ARTIST AT WORK Los Osos artist Tom Sage puts the finishing touches on one of his colorful abstract works.

"The vibrancy and intense color is pretty indicative of my work and has been for a number of decades," Sage, who lives and paints in Los Osos, explained over email. "The paintings in this show are a combination of my most recent and others from the last few years."

The seven works—ranging from 72-by-48 inches to 40-by-30 inches—are displayed along Ascendo's long white wall and crafted from acrylic paint, usually on canvas but sometimes wood, and, according to Sage, sometimes with added objects and glass, "which can anchor a composition."

"My work has roots in surrealism and fantasy in the late '70s and early '80s before it eventually nestles down into abstract expressionism," Sage explained. "Thus an occasional objective reference will pop up and run rampant in some paintings or become the basis for the composition. I'm predominantly an intuitive painter who works by feeling. I recognize color, form, and intrinsic materials as subjective feelings.

click to enlarge GALLERY Tom Sage's art hangs at Ascendo Coffee in downtown San Luis Obispo through September. - IMAGES COURTESY OF TOM SAGE ART
  • Images Courtesy Of Tom Sage Art
  • GALLERY Tom Sage's art hangs at Ascendo Coffee in downtown San Luis Obispo through September.

"So as I begin a piece, there's a mood I'm expressing, and as I continue to add layers of color and medium to the piece, the feelings are changing over time," he added. "Throughout the process, resonant and dissonant layers accumulate, and because I use a fair amount of medium, some portion of each layer is usually visually present in the final piece. The decision process revolves around what I feel doesn't work in the piece and amending according to previous experience in an intuitive fashion. My job as the composer is to organize a vibrant, multi-dimensional, cohesive creation out of a flowing expression of many layers of color and form. Sounds complex, but really, it's just following my feelings based on my experience with the materials and pull at the moment."

A lifelong artist, Sage was raised in Connecticut until age 10, when his family moved west, landing in Santa Monica.

click to enlarge GALLERY Tom Sage's art hangs at Ascendo Coffee in downtown San Luis Obispo through September. - IMAGES COURTESY OF TOM SAGE ART
  • Images Courtesy Of Tom Sage Art
  • GALLERY Tom Sage's art hangs at Ascendo Coffee in downtown San Luis Obispo through September.

He eventually attended Santa Monica College, where he took "two years of studio courses honing my drawing and painting abilities as well as diving into etching and lithography. The real education came with meeting and working alongside so many varied and talented artists, which continued after school," he said.

"My present style of using mediums to build clear layers mixed with color germinated in the mid-'80s," Sage explained. "I was inspired by the artists I knew—some were sculptors, some used glass, others used resin, and I loved the depth of embedded imagery. But after experimenting with a lot of industrial materials, I realized the toll it took on my health. Thus, I chose to begin using acrylic paints and mediums. I evolved my style through the years, moving back and forth across the spectrum of objective and non-objective imagery. The guiding principles being how the work felt as an energetic vibration and as a heartfelt expression of my inner/outer worldview at the time. Today I work in the same vein, intent on raising my personal bar for creating paintings as reflections of undeniable vibrational energy. Work that is hopefully moving in an uplifting, inspiring, and exciting way for the viewer."

click to enlarge GALLERY Tom Sage's art hangs at Ascendo Coffee in downtown San Luis Obispo through September. - IMAGES COURTESY OF TOM SAGE ART
  • Images Courtesy Of Tom Sage Art
  • GALLERY Tom Sage's art hangs at Ascendo Coffee in downtown San Luis Obispo through September.

Like many artists, Sage was moved by the work of others: "There's so much art that has inspired me, but the three times I was blown away was with a Rothko painting at SF MOMA, a Pollock painting at NYC MOMA, and the 'first' time I saw a light wall installation by Tyrell in Venice, California. Art—the idea of art and the feelings about art—are subjective and personal. I feel art can be a deep expression from the soul about any subject that stirs the artist. Technique can be taught from others, but an artist is on a quirky path of self-discovery that can slide between realities and hopefully add a broader perspective to, or respite from, our human condition. Possibly a connection to our higher self."

Sage's work will hang through September. You can contact the artist at tomsageart@yahoo.com.

Contact Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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