“I Like to Experiment”
Carolyn springborn prefers to let her art speak for itself. In fact, the 80-year-old Naples artist doesn’t spend any time at all thinking about her creations, preferring to get on with the business of creating the next.
"Once I’m finished with one, I don’t think about it again. I just move on," she says. "…And I never name anything." (How she and her husband got their two kids to the dinner table is anyone’s guess.)
She’s just as enigmatic about displaying her art as she is discussing it. Until she was convinced by Naples-based interior designer Dick Geary to put on an exhibition last year, Springborn had never made her art available to the public. The show ended up doing astoundingly well with the proceeds given to charity. But the Geary camp says no more exhibits are planned at this time.
Although she has a gallery named after her and her husband, Robert, at the Jay and Patty Baker Naples Museum of Art, none of her work hangs publicly. She’s been more willing to showcase her collection of furniture, which was on display at the Naples Museum, than her own work. She promotes up-and-coming artists through scholarships across the country, but doesn’t care to expose her own abilities.
What you are seeing here is closer than most people will get to Carolyn Springborn and her art. For an artist of her caliber, her creations are remarkably diverse. Her mediums include acrylic or oil on canvas, paper, collages, bronze, iron and mosaics. She even studied fashion and styled department-store windows in her earlier days. When asked to talk about why she chooses to move from medium to medium, she offers little more than an "I like to experiment." Ah, brevity.
It turns out that she tends to switch techniques once she wraps up a course at a new art school (she’s studied with everyone from Leon Berkowitz to Andreas Feininger)—or, as the case may be, an industrial welding class. The story goes that while living in Chicago in the mid-’70s, there was a call for welders to help build the Alaskan pipeline. Sensing an opportunity, Springborn enrolled in a welding class in Ohio, not to head north to Alaska, but to give her one more tool in her artistic arsenal. The result was an ability to create sublime metal works and, if need be, handle the occasional plumbing problem.
Regardless, Springborn’s capacity to create beyond the expected is evident in everything from the collage shown here featuring European restaurant menus over oil to the soft acrylic water base applied to wet canvas. The latter being a "we’ll just see how it goes" experiment that turned into a psychedelic success.