Abstracting Spirit, A New Direction by Barbara Ellis Now in Concord

For Immediate Release: Date: October 12, 2017; click for the PDF copy of this release

CONTACT: Sarah Gay, Manager of ClearWater Artist Studios;

704-784-9535 or

CONCORD, NC – ClearWater Artist Studios is pleased to announce a new show, on view Oct. 7- Dec. 1, 2017. 'Abstracting Spirit: A New Direction,' is a solo exhibition of ClearWater tenant artist, Barbara Ellis' abstract expressionist paintings, which have evolved over the year 2016-17 as she delves deeper into how Spirit moves her artistic practice. The public is invited to come view the exhibit anytime during Open Hours or by appointment; group tours welcome. The Opening Reception, Oct. 7th, drew an appreciative audience for Ellis’s Artist Talk.

Barbara Ellis giving her Artist Talk to an appreciative audience, October 7, 2017

Born in New York, NY, Barbara Ellis received her Bachelors of Art degree from The City College of New York, in 1978.  Throughout her demanding corporate career, she found time for continuing classes in art on the side. Upon relocating to Charlotte, NC in 2004, it became obvious that the corporate path was no longer a fit.  She then embarked, while still working full-time, on a creative path; over years building relationships with Charlotte artists, participating in group shows, and eventually coming to ClearWater Artist Studios, where Ellis has rented a studio since 2012. In 2015 she retired, and committed to working as an artist full-time. In 2016 she won as an ArtPop finalist, placing her artwork on a local billboard for a year.

Ellis was inspired to explore Abstract Expressionism after a visit to an exhibit of Women in Abstract Expressionism at the Mint Museum of Charlotte; and after experimenting upon a large surface, using one of ClearWater Artist Studios’ “Giant Easels.” Abstract expressionists in the ‘50’s integrated the lyricism and spontaneity of Jazz music into their paintings, which resonates with her, she says, “as I grew up during the 1950’s and 60s in a family where Jazz was an integral part of its fabric.”  Her great-grandfather was a well-known pianist in the New York ragtime scene.

Many of Ellis’s new canvases—large, around 4’ X 6’—are exhibited unstretched, to demonstrate part of her process, which is to work with the canvas tacked flat on the wall.  About her work, Ellis says, “The creative process is spontaneous, automatic, and subconscious… The marks are gestural, active – using physical energy as a vehicle to translate impressions from the subconscious/ spirit into visual form.” 

Barbara lives in Charlotte with her husband Henry, who helped her set up an audio recording of her own philosophical musings over Jazz music, as “sound-track” for the exhibit.  She now happily reinvents herself daily by working her craft full-time at Clearwater Artist Studios in Concord, NC.

ClearWater Artist Studios is the artist haven and community hub housed in the City of Concord's nearly century-old former water works and utility operations facilities. It launched a new, interactive website in August; feedback on the new is welcomed. Email or connect on Facebook, @ClearwaterArtistStudios.


ClearWater Artist Studios is located in Gibson Village, less than a mile from Downtown Concord, at 223 Crowell Drive NW. Its Gallery is open to the public Weds-Friday, Noon-5pm; every 2nd Saturday 10am-4pm; and/or by appointment. The Gallery, outdoor Green, and open-air covered Market are available to rent for private events. For details, see; or call 704-784-9535.