Painter gets unexpected exposure at gallery

Ryan Wenzel

Michael Monar, owner of Gallery Mornea, usually dislikes watercolor paintings. He said he generally thinks of them as “washy and imprecise.”

But when Glenview artist Charlotte Sasser submitted samples of her watercolor works to the gallery, Monar found them “masterful” — and perfect for a summer exhibit.

“It was light, airy and had real artistic depth to it,” he said of Sasser’s work. “She has a masterful approach. She has very precise lines, hues and colors.”

Eighteen of Sasser’s works will be on display in the front room of Gallery Mornea, 602 Davis St., until Aug. 31. Most of the works are watercolors, but the exhibit also includes two collages and an archival inkjet print.

Sasser, 65, a 1994 graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, finds the inspiration for her paintings in nature — particularly the ocean. On white canvases, she paints organic figures in a broad spectrum of colors. “Moonstones,” one of her larger paintings, depicts plant- and anemone-like forms in soft pinks and deep greens and reds.

Most of her works have names — “Colt’s Foot,” “Sea Lettuce” — that identify the content, but Sasser’s paintings border on the abstract, exposing “an alternate world of illusion and mystery,” according to the gallery.

When Sasser isn’t satisfied with one of her paintings, she recycles it into a collage — such as the exhibit’s “Black Clam” and “Oyster Drill” — to make use of “the good part.” But she says she avoids giving her collages too much texture.

“I don’t want to make them three-dimensional,” Sasser said. “I want to stick with paint and pen.”

Years ago, Sasser worked as a commercial graphic designer. She said she always had an interest in fine art, and she finally began studying it formally in her 50s.

Sasser’s paintings have been exhibited at the Hinsdale Center for Arts, Inside Art and the Mars Gallery. For the past few years, she has sold her art privately, but she decided to try her luck with local galleries.

Her exhibit at Gallery Mornea marks a new chapter in her career, she said.

“It’s so exciting,” she said. “It’s like a whole new world has opened up.”

Reach Ryan Wenzel at [email protected].