Robbin Robertson



robbin_robertson_photo
When I meet with Robbin Robertson Polter in her home in Central Austin, her particular obsessions are obvious. The house is stuffed to the gills with artworks, both Polter’s own and from other artists. Pieces line the walls, hang from the ceiling and cover shelves. Much of the furniture is painted, and a large folk art Statue of Liberty stands in one corner. That particular Lady Liberty is the work of Polter’s mother, who was herself an artist like many of the women in Polter’s family.

“When I was a kid and I wanted to talk to my mom, I went out to the garage,” Polter says.

Polter, who describes herself as a contemporary folk artist, shares some of her mother’s interest in materials. “I realize I’ve turned into my mother who loved tools,” Polter says. Her own works are full of collage and found objects, and both paintings and her three-dimensional pieces reflect a certain type of wild abandon.

Twisted bits of debris form mermaids and angels. Seaside scences and animals are rendered in playful primary colors. Few of Polter’s works utilize negative space, filled instead with a flood of images and colors.

Despite the bright colors, Poltes says she likes to stay away from things that are simply sweet or comforting. There’s something off kilter about many of the works, a hint of something uneasy, or on the verge of change.

In developing her own style, Polter has combined her own family background with the necessities of her multiple roles. A former airline employee, she now works part-time at locally-based Light crafters, a job that allows her to use interest in construction and design.

The artist is also a devoted parent, joking that while she’s not a soccer mom, she is a swim mom. Both her children are already showing their own artistic talents.

“My son’s got great eye,” Polter says. “He’s the one who comes in and critiques. My daughter is an amazing photographer.”

The sometimes-frenetic pace means that Polter usually works quickly, taking pieces from start to finish usually within a matter of days, and working almost exclusively in acrylics, but the speed suits her. “I don’t have the luxury to real laid back about it,” Polter says. “It’s not my personality.”

That drive has helped Polter pursue her multiple roles effectively, managing to get her kids to and from swim practice, maintain her work with Light crafters and work with other area artist through the Austin Art Co-Op - all while prepping for a pair of shows at Hyde Park Bar & Grill (Westgate and Central Austin locations). As the works featured here demonstrate, that venue should be a good fit for Polter, who brings plants to life and dreams of hamburgers abducted by alines.

Carly Kocurek
Photo by Jaime Ibarra
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