December 2023
Art to Inspire
Sallie Cross-Shore explores her own path

In the second grade, longtime Arizona resident Sallie Cross-Shore realized she wanted to be an artist, and following a fateful bus trip in 1974, she knew Arizona was where she wanted to make art. For over twenty years she worked out of various studios in the Clarkdale, Cottonwood and Sedona areas, including a yearlong stint in a studio in the old Jerome High School. Following some big life-changes in recent years, including her recent marriage to Prescott musician and photographer Rick Shore, she’s in Prescott now and working at The Art Hive, where you can see her work in her studio every Fourth Friday.

Originally from Salt Lake City and living much of her youth in California, because of moves related to her father’s engineering job she attended five different high schools. She was a fortunate child from a close and creative family, with parents who supported her artistic turn of mind. Jazz was the soundtrack at home; when younger her mother had been a multi-instrumental musician. Sallie had the good fortune to travel extensively during her formative years, some of it typical for the time, involving four kids, two parents, a dog and a Volkswagen bus.

Havasupai Falls

Arriving in Arizona in 1974, she attended NAU and received her BS degree in sociology in 1979. Although she fully intended to work in sociology, her passion for art never waned, and through all her studies she continued to make art. During her college years her parents moved again, this time to exotic Sumatra in Indonesia, a connection that became a perfect reason for travel. Exploring that far, far different kind of landscape, Sallie was captivated by the water and rivers, and produced a series of paintings of a new favorite subject, fish. She was fortunate to continue to travel, see the world and gain many experiences that eventually wound their way into her artworks. Embracing her empathetic nature, she gained many insights into cultures and environments that, if you look carefully, you can see in her paintings and drawings.

Fall Agave

Returning to the US, Sallie landed in a classroom using some of her sociology training and a lot of her art practice, teaching art. Lacking formal art training was no deterrent for her, and she says she’s likely a better artist as a result. For over a decade she worked for the grant-funded Artist in the Classroom program, which took her to elementary and middle schools, as well as a few high schools, to teach art. Around the Verde Valley, many of the public murals you see are results of student projects that Sallie led. She says one of the most gratifying things that happens from time to time is when someone now in their 30s or older points to one of those murals and says, “I worked on that!”

Don't Let the Light Go Out

Sallie also worked for many years with the Big Brothers-Big Sisters organization, teaching art to at-risk kids and veterans, her background and experience making her uniquely suited to guide the students on their own artistic journeys. She’s always viewed art as personal therapy, but not so personal as to elude the viewer. Her works are intelligent yet accessible, meaningful and still decorative. During those years she married, divorced and stayed in close touch with her family, eventually becoming primary caretaker for her elderly parents after they returned to the US and settled in the Cottonwood area.

From Sallie's 'Curtains' series

Partly from her time spent organizing classroom activities and partly just from her nature, Sallie takes a workmanlike approach to art. She’s well past the ‘seeker’ or ‘searcher’ stage, and knows what she wants to do and does it. She’s no fragile, temperamental artist: this woman is productive. Her days are structured around set time for painting. She understands the benefits of both mental and physical exercise. She doesn’t wait for inspiration to find her, she goes out and finds it herself. Her personal philosophy is tattooed on her body: “The Despair of Staying Proves Greater than the Fear of Going.” She’s always pushing the edges of her comfort zone.

Although she works in different media, at the moment her favorite is watercolors, and she enjoys the challenges of this difficult-to-control material. She’s worked in oils, acrylics, pencils, pastels and even 3D media — about a quarter of her pieces these days are 3D mosaics. She’ll often create series of multiple pieces to fully explore an idea.

Travel and nature are important influences, but she also draws inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh, artist and adventurer Everett Ruess (1914-1934), and singer-songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson. Sallie sees the role of the artist as inspiring others to feel and think. Art should prompt emotion and thought.

Art constantly pushes many artists to exhibit, publish, promote, influence and compete, but Sallie isn’t burdened by those things. She’s on an artist’s path, but it’s her own path, and she’s not bothered by the competitive nature of art in America. She creates it for herself, with the understanding that in many ways we’re all on the same path, and the work is easily relatable as a result.

So varied it’s hard to describe, you’ll just have to see it on any fourth Friday during the Artwalk. Later this year Sallie will also be a featured artist at The Art Hive, North Cortez Street.

Prescott photographic artist Dale O’Dell is a longtime contributor to 5enses. Photos by Dale.

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