Penn State alum and longtime marketing expert Melinda Curley, a Pittsburgh native and current State College local, has turned over a new leaf in life. After working in the marketing field for numerous companies and agencies, she decided to go back to school to earn her master’s degree in poetry and, from there, she discovered her passion for painting abstract art.
“I started to paint to help my writing, and then after I started to paint I found out that I liked the painting better,” she says. “I liked the more visceral, hands-on experience of painting, so, it’s always been my goal to combine painting and poetry.”
Her artistic process is to first complete a painting and then write a poem about it. That way, she can more fully understand the painting and the emotional connection behind her artistic technique.
“Painting helps me understand my own experiences. So when I go through life and have different experiences and then I paint, I have a much deeper understanding of what my experiences are,” she says. “Now it’s a necessary part of my life.”
She has exhibited her works at many different shows, including juried art shows at Charles Krause Reporting Fine Art in Washington, DC, the Art Association of Harrisburg, and the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania. She also had a solo exhibit at the Bellefonte Art Museum of Centre County as well as multiple shows at Old Main Frame Shop & Gallery in State College, including during Blue-White weekend. Recently, she has been displaying her pieces at the Kish Bank on Allen Street in downtown State College.
This Blue-White weekend, April 21-23, she and former Penn State football player and current artist Matt Rice will be exhibiting their works in the exhibit, State of Blue, at Old Main Frame Shop & Gallery. Rice, also known as Mateo Blu, now lives in Baltimore.
“I had had two shows Blue-White weekend with Old Main Frame, and it was suggested to me that we include Matt this year, and I was excited. I thought it was a great idea in that it would create more interest,” says Curley.
It is not often that artists collaborate on pieces together, but that is exactly what Curley and Rice did for this exhibit. The mixing of their abstract styles and backgrounds in their collaborative pieces is not only astonishing but also tells a story on a whole other level.
“We pulled off something we both wanted to see universally on a microscopic level,” Rice says. “We both come from extremely different backgrounds, and we came together to build something. We united and we created a whole new universe, a whole new feeling within that form of art. We were so immersed in the creation, it was very powerful.”
The dynamic artist duo first met through a mutual connection, Jean Forsberg, a retired Penn State professor who now teaches art in the community. Curley and Rice have both taken private lessons from Forsberg. In fact, they completed their collaboration pieces for the exhibit in Forsberg’s studio.
“It has honestly been a journey,” Rice says. “The connection not only with our professor, Jean Forsberg, but when people are like-minded and have the same energy, you kind of just click. Melinda and I clicked. I was very interested to see how we would blend together. The combination of urban kid and the suburban housewife — that intrigued both of us. It was bigger than the stereotypes, and when you step into art, there’s no separation, there’s no mistakes. Going through that journey with Melinda opened up my view to art.”
Curley finds that coming together with Rice sends an important message to the public during the current state of our country right now.
“I like it especially now with the divisiveness in our country, and I like the example that says No, we don’t have to be divisive, and we’re all the same on the inside,” she says.
Curley and Rice differ in their backgrounds and in their artistic works, but they come together effortlessly and seamlessly when painting together.
“We so naturally came together to create this painting that was not Matt’s style, not my style, but a third unique vision that was the complete integration of Matt’s work and my work to create something that is different than our own individual works,” says Curley. “Matt just makes me a better painter. He makes me take more risks and he makes me edgier, which is a really good thing.”
When asked about his thoughts on the Penn State football team this past year, Rice was overall proud of not only the Big Ten championship but also the young men’s level of maturity on and off the field.
“For their situation and their age, they stepped up and handled things with a level of maturity that is greater than the record they achieved,” he says. “That loss [at the Rose Bowl] didn’t matter to me. They went out champions all the way. We will come back this year even stronger.”
Melinda Curley and Matt Rice will be exhibiting their abstract works during their show State of Blue April 21-23 at Old Main Frame Shop & Gallery in State College. A reception will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. April 21.