Essays / Reviews / Interviews


Mood Indigo
Essay By Eve Wood
May, 2018

“Indigo Journey”; 8 pieces 30″x22″, watercolor on paper with assemblage hanging sculpture, 2018

The elegant and painterly drawings that comprise Karrie Ross’ most recent Indigo series are unsettling in their rawness and emotional tenor, yet sustain a mutable and effortless power. Working in a variety of media including acrylic and watercolor, these elegantly luminous drawings are deceptively simple. Mining the same territories as artists like Cy Twombly and Joan Mitchell, Ross utilizes a relatively simple color palette in order to create more complicated relationships between structural forms. At once loose and oddly rigid, the paint as it is applied here appears both viscous and fluid, the small blue dots appearing to float in the surrounding negative space like small planets in an ever expanding galaxy.

True indigo derives from the Indigofera plant, which is grown in tropical regions. Historically as well as metaphorically, the color has variegated meaning and represents the power of perception and intuition. It is said to promote concentration in times of deep introspection and trauma. Ross contrives to balance this powerful color against the simplicity of basic shapes and forms derived from imagination, intimating a hidden narrative. For example, in one drawing, we are given three lines that appear to buckle in on themselves, pushing out from the center to form a sort of watery boundary of deepening blue mitigated only by the surrounding negative space. Forms break free from the central shape like birds taking to the open skies, and it is these flourishes that hold our attention.

Still other images appear as color swatches that are gradient and move from dark to light and could be read as possible Rorschach like diagrams that chart various emotional cadences. There is also an implied relationship between the drawings and the sculpture wherein each informs the other. The sculptures, as with the drawings are strangely enigmatic and reference language and a hidden narrative that seems to relate to the idea of flight.

“Flying Ball of Words”; 16″x24″; wire, paper

The sculpture, aptly titled “Flying Ball of Words,” is filled with the leavings of language, bits and pieces of paper cut up and strategically placed inside a sphere with copper like wings. Behind this central object is the outlined figure of a man presiding over the extended copper wings. Again, as with the drawings, the sculptural works exist somewhere between restlessness and quietude, longing and inner peace, consciousness and unconscious thought, the pushing out and pulling in of desire. There is also the suggestion here of the failed attempt at flight, the hinted narrative of Icarus’ tragic end as the sculpture is pinned to the wall and unmoving, and the bound words, the final iterations of a figure doomed to die by his own insistence.

Finally, the drawings and sculptures that make up this particular body of work convey a sense of immediacy, a quickening, an urgency by their mere expressiveness as though each blue dot were a separate universe in and of itself and the fact they are in close proximity to one another further emphasizes their beauty, grace and singularity.

Eve Wood is an artist, writer of poetry,  interviews, reviews for the artworld.

Interview in Easy Reader magazine 2017, by Bondo Wyszpolski
For the exhibition in San Pedro, SBC,  “The Faces Within” curated by Karrie Ross

“Karrie Ross has become fairly prominent in the local art scene, as an artist, a curator, but also for her anthologies, these being a series of books about artists with the general title of “Our Changing World: Through the Eyes of Artists.” These serve as chronicles or documents about what regional artists are thinking and exploring in their work. There are currently eight books available.”

Continue to full interview review here.



“The FACES Within”, January, 2017; curated by Karrie Ross, San Pedro, CA

Artist Karrie Ross is a survivor.
Review: Art Critic, Dave Barton, 2017

In person, you can see it in her eyes: the bright, weary glare of a woman who has been playing the boy’s club art game for more years than it’s polite to ask. I could see it in my recent studio visit with her. You can see it in the numerous works featured on her website.

The ONE: the five elements. Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water

Five figures—wood templates for a planned series of metal sculptures—stand in front of the window, sun bursting through the gaping holes in the middle of each, as if they’ve just faced a firing squad. Wire and bead designs hang inside the holes; Tao symbols, wheels, eggs, and flowers all standing in for viscera. In place of faces, more beaded glass gives us eyes, noses, the suggestion of a wan smile; fright wig hair springing from the heads painted to represent Wu Xing (Elements). Given a little refinement and the more solid structure that metal will bring, one can easily imagine them whirling on spinners as kinetic pieces.

The ONE: 4″x4″ canvas’ collage images with The ONE removed out on a stick to be inserted by hand in perspective and participation

Other idiosyncratic figures, still alone, but grouped together in The ONE: Boxed, looking like solid bricks in a wall. The more than a dozen small boxes, exquisite corpses covered with vibrant card art created by another artist and repurposed by Ross, feature a lone figure attached at the top or side. Solitary, defiant, the planted figure often defying gravity, and never too far away from its origin: Cut from the front of the card art, it has left a bright and beautiful Hiroshima shadow underneath.

“Nature: The ONE with Water”; 30″x22″ mixed media on paper

That lonely figure standing amid a chaotic background is a continuing theme in her latest works on paper. In Nature: The ONE with Water, the armless figure stands in water, towering high above the tiny wave breaks below. Her tapering neck—bright, lightbulb head glowing gold—sways and bends dangerously as the paint-spattered wind whips her about, her trunk, filled with a visible brown miasmic grief, firmly rooted in place.

“Where is the Water?”; 30″x22″ mixed media on paper

In another, Where is the Water?, a smaller figure is seen buried from the waist up (ala Samuel Beckett’s Winnie in Happy Days) in a similar watery. Assailed from above by flying, pizza slice-shaped darts—some aimed at her, others seemingly deflected by her circular wings—she still glows, a silver statue of strength.

The Magic of Ten: The ONE creating community participating

In the mixed-media The Magic of Ten, ten of the outlined figures stand in an uneven row against a background of dripped paint that looks like a combination of watery mold and running mascara. Instead of a single figure going it alone, Ross has linked the figures with wire, making them more of a chain gang, suggesting strength through a united front.

Being targeted by the slings and arrows of life covers a lot of artistic ground for many artists: the fears of not being seen; the long hours in a studio by oneself; the accompanying depression that comes with never making quite enough money doing what you love; having to take meaningless side gigs to make ends meet. It can feel like one is continually beset.

Ross’ work is a grand statement that she’s around, fighting, despite what life has handed out to her (and us, by extension). Instead of being crushed under that weight—as so many of us have—she is extending an open hand, and saying stand up, come with me, we’re safer in numbers.

Dave Barton  Has interviewed artists from punk rock photographer Edward Colver to monologist Mike Daisey, playwright Joe Penhall to culture jammer Ron English. He writes art reviews for the OC Weekly for over twenty years, the last eight as their lead art critic.

“A Catalyst of Meaning: The Art of Karrie Ross”
IMPACT OF LIFE  (catalog and video for LA Artcore August, 2014)
Jill Thayer, Ph.D.

For centuries, artists have explored the conceptual boundaries of art and science, such as Da Vinci, whose empirical methodologies revealed the creative discoveries of imagination and curiosity. Those mechanisms of gestalt inspired many in the notions of visual perception and, the reality of being. The psychological phenomena that occurred throughout the process would open the door for wonderers to come. Karrie Ross is an artist who sees the realms of existence through a multi-faceted lens: energy, science, participation, conversations, and being seen are influencing constructs of her work. She notes that, “metaphorical representations create a ‘safe’ place for the viewer to experience a flow and connection from their interaction with the art, discovering that they are part of a bigger whole.” This intent engages a reflexivity between viewer and artist, as Ross defines her process of discovery as one that is intertwined with learning about matter itself, such as the molecular vibrations of an atom that require energy in transitions––and that everything has a frequency, which the universe reciprocates. She adds, “I paint with abandon, and my belief system is that we’re all connected through the vibrational energy of the earth that is natural.”

Change is a catalyst in her work. Ross acknowledges that it can be a simple “Aha” moment and cites that change is in the magic created within the mystery of living life––a paradigm shift.

“I change moment-by-moment. My life is an illusion that I create. My ‘what is’ is right now. I don’t paint based on what’s happening in the world. I paint what is happening within me in reaction to what’s happening in the world. A context is formed from what my subconscious needs me to expose so the art changes a perspective into a response. I have no idea what that is until the art is finished. Balanced. I start with a symbol or figure but all the rest just happens when one is put next to another over and over again.”

Watercolor is the primary media that Ross uses. The painting begins on a dry palette with infusions of pen and ink, oil and acrylic, and sometimes torn paper. Her doodles are reminiscent of Cy Twombly’s organic scribbles set in a field of lyrical abstraction. Spirals, a tonality of blended color,and metallic bejeweling embellish a framework that is grounded in graphic design and color theory. Stylized figures appear whimsical yet allegorical in a resplendent cavalcade to ignite the viewer’s attention.

The juxtaposition of semiotic imagery and magical realism creates a mise-en-scène that is metaphoric of Brecht’s theatrical alienation, in which the audience is distanced from emotional  involvement by a simulated performance.

Figurative and graphic illustrations are cast as playful characters that dance across each piece with quizzical abandon. These incarnations seem to veil an angst that serves as a touchstone and catharsis for Ross, perhaps for life’s complexities. Yet ultimately, these sub-layers of existence reveal her luminous characters in a joyful expression of synergistic continuum.

Jill Thayer, Ph.D.

Jill Thayer, Ph.D. is an artist, educator, and curatorial archivist. She is Associate Professor of Art History for Allan Hancock College, Santa Maria, California; and online faculty at Santa Monica  College in Art History: Global Visual Culture; Southern New Hampshire University in  Humanities/Art History and Marketing; and Post University in the MBA Marketing program for the Malcolm Baldrige School of Business. Jill is contributing writer for Artvoices Magazine, Los Angeles; and Artpulse Magazine, Miami. Her postdoctoral project, “In Their Own Words: Oral Histories of CGU Art,” featuring Professors Emeritus, Professors, and Alumni of Claremont Graduate University is included in Archives of American Art at The Smithsonian Institution.


“IMPACT OF LIFE” LA Artcore Union Center for the Arts
Watch the video on youtube HERE

LA Artcore Exhibition 2014
Interview: Robert Seitz, 

Karrie Ross lives a fully creative life, moving daily between two modes of working.  As a book designer and author, with a background in advertising and marketing, she creates direct interpretations to suit the assignments she receives. As an artist with fifty years of experience with a full range of mediums, she comfortably shifts to the opposite, and works from instinct and mystery as a way to further the intense focal energy she carries within her.

Her art work is about the pursuit of answerable questions. She lives for them, and frames a life through the use of questions, rules and parameters. Quite different from rules of authority where one is left only to choose obedience or rebellion, the sort of rules she discusses are more like tinkering with the instructions for playing a game. Rules introduced to increase the level of intrigue, parlay with chance, and turn a straight line into a garden path.  Likewise there isn’t an absolute answer so much as call and response, diving and resurfacing beneath the waters of her search in a game of Marco Polo. She searches for an unguided answer in the work, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, and uses this to measure the degree of finish in a piece.  She moves through materials and surfaces at will, and tends to take on a cluster or group of materials to work over at one time.  It is as though she were an irrigation system, trying out new crops in various fields, and directing the gates of her waters in pulses that reach several ends at once.

Creating rules as she works, in the most playful sense, are key to her process. This is significant to her, she wasn’t aware of the rules (her own role in making them) when she was younger.  Being aware of them means being able to manipulate them, having control over who she is, a source of growth and joy for her as she becomes increasingly familiar with how much she can direct her own perceptions.

The works have a dreamy excess to them, colors outlined with frenetic ink strokes that fizz and pop, her elements in a halo of static electricity. A visiting art critic called these marks obsessive, and in art obsession is not a liability.  Spotting the grief in a particular work, Ross was delighted to hear it.  Even though there is a pleasant sturdiness, a kind of holistic whimsy that characterizes their outer glow, the devil is in the details, and the pictures are raucous records of many emotions and thoughts. The artist has in reserve specific information regarding what she was going through in a particular piece, but she’s not telling, expressing the sentiment of many artists, that she’s just not interested in telling others how to see.

In the culture of art there is a prevailing interest in favoring youth. Besides the obvious paradox in reducing the visibility of skill and experience, one misses the examples of possible directions the relationship with one’s self can take. Each decade has produced leaps forward for Ross, with the current vocabulary in her work feeling as though it is just a few years old. Beyond the arch claim behind a steady incline of experience, these periodic shifts are a kind of renewal. Each time, meeting herself as a new friend, creates room for new intimacy and understanding. (end RS)
LA Artcore website interview ARCHIVED at :

IMPACT OF LIFE  (catalog and video for LA Artcore August, 2014)
Art Critic Shana Nys Dambrot, Art Critic

SOLD—"I Am The Egg!"; Man #3; 30x22; oil, watercolor, acrylic, ink on arches

SOLD—”I Am The Egg!”; Man #3; 30×22; oil, watercolor, acrylic, ink on arches

The only reason I wanted to stop and look at this particular piece is because I feel it has elements of all of the different things that I love, that are going on in other pieces throughout the whole show, but they’ve all found their way into this one image. What I mean by that is, for example, Karrie and I have been talking about this abstract figurative continuum. One of the things I love about a lot of the work is that, even though it all very clearly read as a pictorial space with objects and figures and actions, this piece, if you take out these seven little trees right there and you don’t see them, this whole expanse doesn’t even necessarily read as a horizon line anymore.

It reads as this very beautiful gestural…and this more forceful, and four to five different kinds of abstraction or abstract expressionism. Then you put these tiny, little marks a little ink, very little it couldn’t be more schematic. as far as describing a tree goes. There are a couple of them, and that’s it. Then, all of a sudden, this whole thing becomes a horizon line or a hill top.

You have this green color you read as a meadow or a grass or an natural space. You have all this stuff starting to read as a sky, weather, or atmosphere. You get this pictorial space, and all of a sudden, this egg form, it could very easily be a boulder. But you know, if you look throughout the work, that eggs are recurring imagery in the work.

All of the drawing that happens inside of it no longer takes away from it being this object that this figure is standing on. It reads clearly, “I know that there’s a lot of accidental brilliance that happened in here, and a few discoveries and things that were worked at and worked at, and then it looks simple and intuitive.”

"Bejeweled Fish"; 30"x22"; watercolor, pen&ink, oil, acrylic on arches

“Bejeweled Fish”; 30″x22″; watercolor, pen&ink, oil, acrylic on arches

I love this fish mostly because, if you take out just its head you don’t even have to take out the whole fish, take just head out all of a sudden, the whole thing becomes completely abstract, completely non representational. It becomes about the shapes, the colors, the textures, the tiny, tiny little mark making that’s super controlled, the splatters that are much less controlled, and those organic versus ritualistic shapes.

It takes on a completely different character, once you see the whole creature. Abstract. Fish allegory. All of a sudden, there’s narrative “What does that mean? Where does that come from?” and the symbolism that goes on in that.

Shana Nys Dambrot, Art Critic, Writer, Curate (transcribed from the show video)
Video can be seen at:

~Shana Nys Dambrot is an art critic, curator, and author based in Los Angeles. She is currently LA Editor for Whitehot Magazine, Arts Editor for Vs. Magazine, Contributing Editor to Art Ltd., and a contributor to the LA Weekly, Flaunt, Huffington Post, Palm Springs Life, and KCET’s Artbound. She studied Art History at Vassar College, writes loads of essays for art books and exhibition catalogs, curates one or two exhibitions each year, recently published her first work of short fiction, exhibits photography, and speaks in public with alarming frequency. An account of her activities is sometimes updated at


Ken Fermoyle
The Messenger, Topanga Canyon

“The expressive paintings and dialoging bustiers by Karrie Ross,are more avant garde; they both communicate and stimulate quite different messages than Andrews’ work evokes. Ross offers a selection of new work in her Spiral Series, including the new portrait series, wall hanging “Bustiers ” and more. They definitely further the promise of interaction, introspection, and informative feelings that the shows theme suggests: true conversation. And, as with Andrews’ whimsical glass pieces, there is a big helping of FUN involved!”

Ken Fermoyle
Feature Review: The Valley Scene, 2011
The Messenger, Topanga Canyon

She bills herself as “Karrie Ross, California Artist,” but the lady is much more than that. The self-proclaimed former “hippie gone wild” has also made good as an award-winning author, a book designer, a poet, fine artist, and a blogger. Blending all these talents together skillfully makes her what could be the prototype for a successful 21st Century artist.

It’s not that she uses technology to create her art, but that she is a master at using today’s tools – the Internet, websites, a blog and more – to put her work before the public. Yes, she follows the traditional path of displaying her art in galleries (she will be featured in a two-person exhibit at Topanga Canyon Gallery beginning Aug. 31), art shows and the like. But she understands today’s realities.

“Just doing the traditional things isn’t enough anymore. Fine art has universal appeal, and technologies like the Web and Internet make it possible to display it literally to the whole world.” says Ross. “That’s what I’m trying to do in my own small way.”

A 1967 graduate of Birmingham High, Ross has fond memories of “cruising the Boulevard on Wednesday nights in my boyfriend’s 1949 Chevy Coupe.” But today she’s more apt to be cruising the Internet, following up queries from her website or putting finishing touches on a new blog entry.