Statement and BIO


Working on a sculpture, 2015.

Despite the outlandishness of most of my work, real life is my largest inspiration. I (often subconsciously) translate the dark, funny, and the joyful aspects of living, or news headlines, into abstracted birds, monsters, or simple shapes with just enough features that you can tell they’re alive. Sometimes I’ll add an object for no conscious reason, like a suitcase. Objects can also be symbols, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing to everyone, or every time. People see their own meanings in it, making it more like a conversation than a monologue. It can also just be enjoyed for the absurdity. Perhaps because of their immediacy, the main mediums I work in are acrylic paint and colored pencils, (often combining the two), and occasionally small three dimensional works of same type creatures as in my two dimensional work. I also draw in ink and pencil, and do collages using my own drawings that usually start as doodles. When I plan pieces, they often take on a life of their own, with spontaneous elements that surprise me.


Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona: Graduated 1986, Bachelor of Arts degree, (Studio Art), 1986. Focus: painting, drawing, and ceramic hand building.

Phoenix College


Governors Arts Awards 2014, Purchase Award. “Birds in Wigs” was purchased to present as an award to Rosie’s House of Music, an educational arts org for children.


The Artery, Phoenix, AZ

{9} The Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, group show Tiny Works/Tiny Dances, Dec. 2016

Herberger at Arizona Center, Phoenix, AZ, ongoing, invited participant in “Derivatives” by curators and photographers Archie and Connie Tucker.

{9} The Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, Sept 2016 solo show titled Fatal Farm.

Olney Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, Sept 2016, two person show with Carlos Rausch.

{9} The Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, Gods and Monsters, summer 2016 group show

Chartreuse Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, “Cats and Guitars” show, and “Mutant Pinata” show, 2015

Lotus Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, “Icelandia” show, Phoenix, AZ, Dec. 2015

{9} The Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, various group shows, miniatures in gift shop, 2015, 2016

Tieken Gallery, Paradise Valley, AZ, November 2015

“She Deck,” painted skateboards by numerous artists, {9} The Gallery and Chartreuse jointly held this show, Phoenix, AZ, summer 2015

“Everything After,” two-person show with Jared Aubel, at R. Pela Contemporary Art. This was the show where I made over a number of reprints found at thrift stores. Phoenix, AZ, March, 2015

“MOVE!” A group show about things that move, at {9} The Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, February, 2015

Phoenix Festival of the Arts mural, December 2014

“Dry,” a group show about living in the Arizona desert, at R. Pela Contemporary Art, Phoenix, AZ, July 2014

“For the Birds,” two-person art show with Scott Wolff, (aka Colororgy), at R. Pela Contemporary Art, Phoenix, AZ, April, 2014

Phoenix Festival of the Arts mural project, December, 2013.

R. Pela Gallery, “Klown” show, June, 2013, Phoenix, Arizona

“CHOMP” A group show at the University Club, Phoenix, AZ, 2012

Nielsen Design Studios building owner generously let me use an empty store front to have a solo show, April 2012.

Bragg’s Pie Factory gallery, “The Women’s Room” show featuring local female artists, Phoenix Arizona, Sep. 2011.

Shemer Art Center, House of Fun, Phoenix, AZ, April & May, 2011.

Willo North gallery, group shows, Phoenix, AZ, 2010-2012.

Small Treasures, Arizona Art Alliance Gallery, miniature painting exhibit, Scottsdale, AZ, December, 2010.


I ran across these on a very old version of my resume!

Sky Harbor Airport Art Program, Phoenix, AZ, 1991.

Mars Gallery, Phoenix, AZ, 1988, 1989, 1990.

Tempe Arts Center, Tempe, AZ, 1988.

Deer Creek Gallery and custom leather shop, Tempe, AZ, 1988.

Phoenix College Student Art Exhibit, Phoenix, AZ, 1981.

Arizona State Fair, Phoenix Arizona, 1981.


Most recent full time employer:

Nielsen Diversified/Nielsen Design Services, owner: Mike Nielsen
1994-1997. Custom faux finishing for the interior design trade.
8801 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85020


Prior to working at Nielsen Diversified, I did faux finishing, convention displays, TV and film sets, theater sets, and murals, for several companies and individuals, often on a returning freelance basis. One of my most memorable jobs started during college and continued later as a freelance artist, for Lyric Opera Theatre, in Arizona State University’s music department, painting sets and constructing costumes. I’ve also worked for Southwest Scenic Group, Tempe, AZ, Southwest Props, Phoenix, AZ, Sunbelt Scenic, and similar companies, (1980s-1990s) as well as various local theater groups, and companies providing sets and decorations for corporate conventions and theme parties.


Arizona is “home.” I’ve lived longest in Arizona, and lived here twice, but have also lived in a few other states.

Early art influences probably included cartoons, elaborately illustrated books on prehistoric creatures from the grade school library, and the illustrations in advertising and designs. I recall, as a very young girl, critiquing in my mind the drawing quality of cartoons or the shading and color of illustrations. I admired the ones that were very well done. The town I grew up in was small, and there were no museums or galleries. I didn’t become aware of the genre of surrealism until I was in my late teens, but I did identify with it as being closest to what I did, though not quite an exact fit. It was about that time I also discovered magazines like MAD and admired the quality of some of the artists. As a kid, I read some comics, but only those with an art style and concepts that appealed to me. I won’t name names, but there were a few Sunday comic strips, and kids’ cartoons, that I hated because of how they were drawn!

Mostly, I retreated into my own mind and shut out everything else when I drew. Still do for the most part.

In later high school and college art history classes I learned more about the old masters, surrealism, and other genres, styles, and techniques. Though I identified with the bizarre works of Hieronymus Bosch and others, and greatly admired the wonderful shading and modeling in paintings by Caravaggio, I didn’t aspire to be like any particular artist or category. I preferred to experiment on my own as well as learn techniques, and recombine it all into what worked for me in that particular piece’s mood.

Sometimes my work is fairly detailed; other times it’s looser. When I work very large, I like to use tools and methods that allow larger movements, like palette knife paintings. This method is especially useful to “loosen up” after doing very detailed or intricate work.

Regardless of medium or size, the character of my creatures are still recognizable to those familiar with my work.

The overriding theme is one of absurd creatures that exude some emotion or condition of the human race and perhaps exist in a symbolic landscape or situation. Because these images mostly come from the subconscious, it’s my belief that they are about timeless and basic components of our nature.

As a young girl I often filled the backs of flattened paper bags with creatures and scenes. My main tools were pencils and ball point pens, both as drawing tools and clay-modeling tools. In early grade school I often got into trouble for drawing on test papers. No matter what the consequences, I drew in school, (something that never stopped even as an adult, whenever a pen and paper are within reach). My notebooks were often more illustrated than written, sometimes with relevant drawings, but often just senseless.

In the early 80s I found myself an adult, trying to find my way in life, and entering college a little older than most students. My heart said major in art, so, despite many dire warnings and a few false starts, I got a degree in 1986 in studio art and have never regretted it. The years in art school allowed me to focus on art, something I could not have done if I’d gone another direction. And, it got my foot in the door in the arts industry, so I was able to support myself with my talent. The work experience had great practical value.

My main project my junior and senior year of college was an idea that spontaneously came to me in a drawing, and evolved from there; a giant, wicked, pink rabbit that took an irreverent look at a holiday that had become commercialized; the Giant Killer-Pink Easter Bunny. It started out as a series of large drawings in soft (chalk) pastels, and oil pastels, on paper, which have long since disintegrated. There was one oil painting that survived long enough to take a photograph of it.  I wasn’t very good at recording a lot of my art then, since it was before digital cameras, smart phones, or even desk top scanners. I had someone photograph a few pieces once, and those, including one of the bunny, are getting pretty faded!

I made a costume of the Bunny by coloring white fake fur, with watered down paints and I don’t know what all, such a hideous pink that I called it killer-pink, sewing it together by hand with no pattern, and constructing the head from a heat moldable plastic mesh called Veriform that I learned to use in the costume shop at Lyric Opera Theatre. I covered the mesh head with the colored fake fur and other features. The slanted, elliptical eyes were made of a fine, dark blue, iridescent mesh so I, or whoever might wear it, could see out, but no one could easily see in. The costume came out well and was one of my prized possessions until a year or two after graduation, when I discovered it had been destroyed by mice. All I have left of the Bunny is a technologically outdated dinosaur era ‘color separation’, done in a graphics engineering class, (pre Photoshop), and the faded photo of the oil painting. I take more pains to make my art more archival these days, as well as to document it. It was a project that really made me push myself to make my more conceptual art thoughts come to life. It was a blessing to have a teacher (Rip Woods, RIP), who let us do that and yet at the same time held us accountable for actually delivering something.

Midway through college, after settling on art, I started working at Lyric Opera Theatre, first in the scene shop and later in the costume department. That experience sure came in handy for making the Giant Rabbit!

After college, I continued to do similar work for companies for trade show displays, television sets, film, and theme parties, as well as theater. Occasionally I’d work on a mural in a commercial setting like a restaurant. My last art related full time job was for an interior designer in Phoenix, mostly doing faux finishing of large scale objects and furniture, which were sold by the interior design and furniture trades. Kind of like having Rip Woods as a teacher, I had Mike Nielsen as my boss there, and he made it enjoyable. I really got into the zone most days, applying faux finishes to all sorts of large objects. Mike always had faith in me. Years later he let me use one of his empty shop fronts for a solo show. What a great guy!

I married my husband, Brian, in 1993. (My maiden name, Pollock, still appears on older work. No relation to Jackson Pollock, that I know of!) After Brian and I married, I continued to work as a faux finisher at Mike’s shop for a few years, until we moved away from Arizona for my husband’s career, in 1997. We lived in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Oklahoma, before eventually returning to Phoenix. All the moves didn’t really help me get established anywhere else, so except for art done in private and kept in private, I was kind of drifting!

While we were in Oklahoma, (2000-2009), life took an unexpected turn. I became involved in internet research and consumer advocacy. I also obtained a paralegal certificate from the University of Oklahoma’s law school program.

Without realizing why it was happening, I began to drift away from art and became more and more immersed in politics, crime, news, consumer fraud, research, and law. I made trips to the state capitol to speak at legislative committee meetings and task forces, and did online legal and news research, and writing for a consumer organization. I spent many an afternoon in the law library either hitting the books or using their Westlaw subscription. For awhile, I considered entering a paralegal career. The economy crashing may have kept me from finding a job just long enough to evaluate whether it was even right for me. After several years, I realized legal work and consumer advocacy were too far removed from art, for me to ever get back to being the artist I am, and feel whole and happy again.

The theories in Betty Edwards’ book, “Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain,” began to make perfect sense to me; with consumer and legal issues, I was caught up in left brain work and could not switch gears back to the right side, (art), quickly enough to be artistically productive and truly happy.

So, I left that world and went back to art full time, in about 2009. But this time, not as an employee. Just doing my personal art! It was time, and old back injuries really prevented me doing the kind of heavy work and awkward positions that are required to paint large things all day long.

In 2009, my husband and I returned to Phoenix. I reconnected with some old friends, acquaintances and former co-workers, looked into the galleries and shows, and was thrilled to have work accepted. Now, I am thoroughly enjoying being able to devote full time hours to my personal art, and enjoy seeing it go to new good homes where people with the same warped sense of humor I have can live with my creatures.

Thank you for reading all the way to the bottom!

All work © Cindy Schnackel, all rights reserved.