Valley artist’s work requires active viewing for different perspective

Inside the recently opened Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway Center is a frosty white mural that holds hidden secrets to the naked eye. It’s only when seen with a polarized viewer that a new colorful world greets the eyes.

It is the latest work of Henderson-area resident Austine Wood Comarow, who has devoted her life to a new medium called Polarized Light Art.

“When I first started developing my work in the late ’70s and early ’80s, it was very much about light coming through things and the movement of the light,” Comarow said. “That was sort of influenced by living near the Strip and seeing all of its lights. Even though my subject matter was always of nature, I did feel a connection to the energy of this place.”

It took Comarow more than two years to bring her latest mural to life. She studied the native plants and animals of the area and began by outlining the peaks of the mountain.

Her daughter, artist Cara Wood Ginder, helped her cut the thousands of tiny pieces of clear cellulose that make up the images.

“What’s lovely about her mural is that it doesn’t reveal itself too soon,” said Deborah Bergin, project manager and architect at Lucchesi Galati Architects. “People love it. They say it’s beautiful and thoughtful because all of the images she used are reflective of the actual birds and plants in the mountain.”

Comarow grew up in post-war Europe, where her father directed the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, which won the Nobel Peace Prize under his leadership.

Having lived abroad for many years, she speaks five languages fluently.

She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Russian language and literature at Indiana University and later earned a master of fine arts in illustration from Syracuse University.

“I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. My mother was an art teacher,” Comarow said. “The main thing I got from my mother is that you don’t have to use art supplies from an art store. You can make art out of anything. So I was always looking for different kinds of materials to make art out of.”

At a vital point in her creative development, she discovered that certain transparent materials produce colors when they are illuminated with polarized light and are viewed through polarizing filters.

“I started experimenting with this right after college because I took a lot of painting in college, and in those days (back in the ’60s), they were just teaching abstract expressionism, and people were saying that representational art was so passe,” Comarow said. “I decided to use a completely different medium because I wasn’t that happy with the abstract expressionism we were supposed to be doing.”

As she was experimenting with clear cellophane, her ex-husband, who was an astronomer and physicist, taught her about the physics of light.

“He knew if you took two polarizers and put them on either side of that material, you get color,” Comarow said. “It was an instant revelation for me.”

She calls the artistic medium Polage art.

The first piece she made was 2 by 3 inches and made out of candy wrapper, a clear cigarette package and scotch tape.

Most of her work since 1967 has been devoted to controlling this phenomenon and creating a new artistic medium.

The process starts with a drawing. She then follows the drawing cutting various thicknesses of clear colorless cellulose in the form of cellophane into hundreds of tiny pieces at different angles, which are laminated onto a polarizing filter.

The colors become visible only when viewed through a second polarizing filter. In some cases, that would be polarizing sunglasses, which she wears as she works in order to see the colors she is creating.

Comarow creates editions of her work by recording details of what she did and referring to the notes to make another piece using the same drawing.

“What I liked about it was that I was able to use clean material to work with,” Comarow said. “At the time, I had two toddlers, and it was nice to not have to stink up the place.”

Polage art may be interactive, kinetic, or passively viewed like stained glass, she said.

Comarow prefers to work in all three modes because each “image is conceived to convey a particular idea or feeling.”

She said she did not receive much recognition until she was living in Santiago, Chile, in the early ’70s. There, she had a show at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

She then moved to Boulder City and opened her first art gallery downtown in 1976 with her husband, Dave Comarow, who has been her informal collaborator since they met more than 40 years ago.

“He was instantly fascinated with the scientific aspects of the art I was doing and has participated in the research and development of all aspects of it, from finding the best archival glues to designing the motorized light boxes,” Comarow said.

Interestingly, her biggest employer has been Maui Jim, an Illinois-based manufacturer of sunglasses, which feature patented polarized lens technology that allows people to view her artwork.

Her work can also be seen at the Boston Museum of Science, New Mexico Museum of Natural History, la Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris and the Southern Nevada Heritage Museum in Henderson.

“I wanted the (Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway Center) piece to be a metaphor for the act of discovering nature,” Comarow said. “As you go up the mountain, it looks very empty. It looks like there are rocks and maybe some trees. You don’t realize that there’s so much life there. That’s the purpose of the art — to excite people about what there is to discover around that area.”

Visit austine.com or call 702-260-1600 or 888-882-8784.

To reach North View reporter Sandy Lopez, email slopez@viewnews.com or call 702-383-4686. Find her on Twitter: @JournalismSandy.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Get a sneak peek at Palace Station's newest renovations
Station Casinos spokesperson Lori Nelson gives a first look at what Palace Station's $192 million renovation will bring. Some areas will begin opening to the public next week according to Nelson. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas
You Can Only Get The 11-pound 8-person Burger In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Paul McCartney is worth over $1 billion
Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most celebrated and accomplished musicians in history. He just turned 76 on June 18. McCartney grew to international fame with the Beatles and went on to become a wildly successful solo musician. Paul McCartney’s net worth is estimated at $1.2 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2017, McCartney landed the No. 13 spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid musicians, earning $54 million for the year. On Thursday, June 20, McCartney will release a double A-side single featuring two new songs, "I Don't Know" and "Come On to Me." McCartney has yet to announce a title of his new album or when it will be released. Th album is expected to be released before he headlines the Austin City Limits Music fest in October.
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas
Bellagio's New Conservatory Brings Italian Summer To Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
Kari Curletto of Las Vegas put over 500 hours into making her toilet paper wedding dress. (Courtesy Kari Curletto)
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France
The Real Crepe In Las Vegas Serves Authentic Crepes In The Style Of Brittany, France. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
New Marilyn Musical Brings Screen Icons Life To Strip
Paris Las Vegas hosts musical bio featuring new, old tunes. (Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
Vegas' hottest concerts of the summer
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas
We Taste-tested The Best Doughnut Shops In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
5 must-see bands at Punk Rock Bowling 2018
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s
Gabi Coffee & Bakery Is Like A Korean Speakeasy From The 1920s (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Life
Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Las Vegas police officer on being PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door
Las Vegas police officer David Anthony talks vegan lifestyle and how he feels about being voted PETA's sexiest Vegan next door from his home on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like