Old Town artist Don Sorenson's artist career reads like a Hollywood
1973 Sorenson, armed with determination, color slides of his paintings
and a brand new Master of Arts degree from Cal State, Northridge,
began the usual siege of big-name galleries. From some he got
the usual "Don't bother me, peddler" response, but the
assistant at Nicholas Wilder Gallery in Los Angeles offered and
one year and 52 phone calls later, Sorenson personally returned
to the gallery. He was told Wilder was out and not expected back
for a couple of hours. Sorenson loaded his small slide viewer,
got into his car and waited.
hours later he saw Wilder and artist Bruce Nauman emerging from
another car. As they stepped into the gallery, engrossed in conversation,
Sorenson thrust the viewer in front of Wilder's face and nervously
shouted, "Look at this, please." Wilder advised
the young artist to calm down and wait in his private office.
maybes and three more months went by, followed by a studio visit
from Wilder himself. After thoughtfully perusing each painting
he said to Sorenson, "Call me when you do some more work."
year passed, and within it a new series of 10 paintings. A second
visit from Wilder, who was considering recommending Sorenson to
a fellow gallery owner. After viewing the modernist painter's
newest works Wilder said, "One of my artists has just canceled.
You can show tomorrow."
an unforgettable but sleepless night Sorenson was ready to take
part in the group exhibit. His reviews were good. He even sold.
He was signed on as one of Wilder's "stable" of regulars.
aspiring artists think that when this happens you're made,"
Sorenson said, "but it just isn't so. I had to fight as hard
to stay with Wilder as I did to get there."
mid '70s will be remembered by the art world as the time the bottom
fell out of the market. The so-called "young artists"
(those not yet at Mt. Everest) in a dealer's stable were being
let go in droves because they were too expensive to keep. Sorenson
is currently the only one left in the Wilder stable. But clearly
he'll make it.
His art is structured, sophisticated and contained
continuation of Jackson Pollack's. Working on huge canvasses,
he first paints his ground and overlays it with elongated, spear-shaped,
zig-zagged masking tape cutouts. He then overpaints several times
in taped groupings. When the final tape is removed the finished
work reveals intensely complex, brilliantly colored intertwined
diagonals— sometimes curvilinear— that arouse the
viewer's emotions and intellect simultaneously.