Is Cindy Engler a talented oil color painter or is Cindy Engler a skillful mosaic artist?
Yes she is.
I first saw Cindy Engler’s work at a big holiday event in Shadyside last year. The party featured great music and several artists displayed their works. I saw Engler setting up her creations, actual animal skulls (completely cleaned and devoid of any former soft elements) brightly decorated with colorful mosaic pieces. They had a rustic southwestern charm.
A little later that evening, I was looking at the art on the lower level of the building. I was enchanted by the colorful canvas groupings of women who seemed to be living out Cyndi Lauper’s song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” There were some of the model-like women in all the paintings. All were dressed (several were just in bikinis) in a nicely stylized “hippy chic” manner. In some of the paintings the women were very active: skeet shooting, fly fishing, shooting arrows with bows, and taking yoga.
Other women in the paintings were lounging in bikinis in gorgeous tropical locales, enjoying a glass of wine or other spirits. I was intrigued by the beautiful use of the color and the way the women were portrayed: beautiful, active, stylish. They were having fun, whether it be by lounging or actively pursuing their hobbies. I then looked to see who the artist was and the display card said “Cindy Engler.”
I later ask Engler, who are these women that she portrays? She replies “they’re women that I think it would be fun to be friends with.”
“Some of my friends say they see me in some of my paintings, but I’m not consciously trying to put myself in them,” she says.
The description on her oil painting brochure says it best, “The latest series of oil paintings depict high spirited sensual women with an undeniable sense of style.”
“The paintings reflect my fashion sense and personality, they are also somewhat whimsical. I like a lot of bright colors,” Engler adds.
Engler, a lovely and very gracious woman, took great pride in showing me her Sewickley studio and techniques. She grew up in Bedford, Pa. and starting taking Saturday art classes at the age of fourteen. She went on to study fashion illustration at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. “I create art because it gives me great joy. When I create my art, especially the skulls, I go into a very meditative-like state” she relates.
Engler continues, “for my oil paintings, to get my look, I often use a lot of paint on certain parts of the illustration. I then carefully scratch the extra layers to bring out the deep colors and give it a rich textured look. I like painting with oil because it takes awhile to dry and you can change it. When I’m done with my paintings it can take up to a week for them to completely dry.”
The idea to decorate animal skulls came to me when my husband Rich (legendary rock concert promoter of the former DeCesare-Engler Productions) brought home a deer skull he found while walking in the woods. “I thought it would be cool to decorate it” She carefully cleaned the bony skull (now she buys cleaned animal skulls from several online providers) and produced her first skull art piece. Since then she’s created art from the skulls of several species of animals: rams, deer, cattle, Spanish ram, Impala, blesbok.
Engler creates her own decorative mosaic pieces. She paints sheets of clear safety glass with different colors depending on her muse. After the paint dries, she puts the painted glass in a flat, fold-able, heavy cardboard box and then shatters them into differently shaped pieces with a mallet. She also uses hot colored waxes, gold and silver leaf paint, and hand cut mirrored pieces on some of her decorative skulls.
Engler’s art ranges in price from $400 to $1,800 for the skull art and $1,600 to $4,000 for the oil color paintings. Oil painting reproductions are also available and range from $250 to $850, depending on the desired size.
Rich Engler is very proud of his wife’s artistry. They met in Shadyside when Rich was a young drummer for a rock band called Grains of Sand and Cindy was an Art Institute student. Rich’s band was practicing in the basement of Cindy’s friend’s house when they met. They have been together ever since. They have a son, Dylan, who is a talented glass artist and has his own studio Engler Glass in Columbus, Ohio. Daughter, Ashley, is a successful acupuncturist living in Boulder, Colorado.
Look for new Cindy Engler works and exhibitions in the not too distant future.