“A horticulturalist of collage and color, the simplicity and oscillation between the micro and the macro in Quade’s new work is growth in the right direction. Decorative and deliberate, the mixed-media work is a meticulously cultivated garden: organic and manicured in its play between nature’s lines and patterns paired with moments of nostalgia and lyricism. Surfaces of lichen-hued oranges, ochres, and moss greens buoy architectural blocks of color and line drawing. Fern-like tendrils splash across textured, abraded, canvases inlaid with wistful found objects; and aged scraps of script and scores are framed and tacked in meticulous compositions juxtaposed with deliberately primitive marks. The gestures are a dialed-down version of Cy Twombly mark-making-meets-journal-entry-scrawl-of-a-bygone-era."
Don Quade: Nature's Architecture", Santa Fean, Elizabeth Lake, April -May, 2011
Finding order in disorder is a key element in paintings and collages by Don Quade, who brings to his
work a background and a sensibility that makes the intersection of rationalism and abstraction an
almost reflexive act. His symbols and forms find a place on a canvas through a talent at organization
that is fluid enough to leave room for the spontaneous gesture and what he calls the happy accident.
Born in El Paso, Texas in 1963, Quade moved to Colorado as a teenager. As a child he knew he
wanted to become an artist, and went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Colorado State
University with a minor in art history. He then began working as a graphic designer.
His skill and devotion to good design informs his work, as does a less readily apparent entity. For
as Quade believes that thoughtful design should be a given, so does he find inspiration in nature,
especially in the changes of seasons and humankind’s most addictive effort to shape the environment:
the garden. And as someone who is steeped in the character of the Southwest, Quade is not
just influenced by the sense of openness and the impact of the region’s brilliant light. He knows the
difficulty of taming and reclaiming land, and also how difficult it is to nurture living things through
erratic and harsh seasons.
This cyclical aspect of nature informs his work, since he is interested in what he calls the in-between
seasons, the period when a garden or the landscape at large is in flux. Here order is interrupted,
growth deteriorates and life comes to an end, but with the knowledge that time will bring it back.
Vegetal elements and references to natural forms run through his work, though in an abstracted
That’s where his interest in design comes in, since a desire to make sense of random elements through
nature’s inherent geometry serves as a filter for his world. It’s a matter of pinning down elusive shapes,
forms and symbols to a basic structure. In some cases, the answer takes on the character of a grid,
a framework in which Quade can organize the elements of a painting. Just as an airplane passenger
can look down at the earth and see how an organic landscape is broken into geometric shapes,
Quade seeks a way to give ideas a format and symbols a place in his vocabulary.
Over the years, Quade’s palette has followed a similar pattern, in that it tracks the evolution of the
seasons. Though some of his early work was darker, his paintings now tend toward a lighter ground,
with brighter and bolder colors that stand out for their affinity for the natural world. But it is this desire
to reconcile the structured and the random—order and disorder—that results in compositions where
the parts coalesce into a harmonious whole.
- From the seminal work by Michael Paglia and Mary Voelz Chandler,
Colorado Abstract: Paintings and Sculpture, 2008
Excerpts from Selected Reviews
"His abstract paintings combine geometric and organic forms loosely scattered across a colored background. Occasional manmade objects are juxtaposed against botanical references. Quade cites gardens as the basis of his work, the combination of natural chaos and order imposed on nature and the effect of changing seasons when the cycle of creation and destruction is evident in plant life. His goal is to create, 'Compositions where the individual parts coalesce into a harmonious whole.”
-Lisa Van Sickle
Santa Fean Magazine
Cover Story, June-July 2119
“At first glance, the work of Don Quade evokes the image of a quilt, blocks of color, pattern, and texture cleanly arranged in one finished work of art. Further explanation by the artist though, adds a level of complexity to this simplistic view. Quade uses the garden as a metaphor: "my current work focuses on the transitional and transformative phases of life cycles, specifically exploring the issues of chaos vs. order and creation vs. destruction." This is evident through shapes of disordered collage juxtaposed with solid textural segments. With references to seasonal changes in nature through the presence of leaves in many works, it's easy to see why Quade's new collection is titled, ‘The In Between Season’.”
- Lindy Abrams
Carolina Arts Magazine
"There’s something about Don Quade’s mixed media paintings and collages that reminds you of childhood. Not the scary childhood of booming thunderstorms, strange big dogs, arguing adults and mean kids down the block, but the happy days of bright sun, gentle breezes, eye soothing patterns, and gumdrop-bright colors. That’s not surprising for Quade was born and raised in El Paso (TX) and grew up with the far reaching skies and plains for company. He communicates primal, childlike feelings by drawing from nature: leaves, horizons, trees, shadows, clouds and flowers. But he filters these things through his artist’s eye, producing abstract works based in the purest kind of reality – the reality that underlies all artifice and first view glances.”
-Craig Smith, Pasatiempo, New Mexico's Weekly Magazine of the Arts, Entertainment and Culture
" The paintings have complicated compositions, and Quade's use of dark details on the light-colored grounds makes them operate differently depending on the viewer's vantage point. From a distance, there's a geometric organization to the picture, with the dark forms -- often rectangles, squares or even circles -- standing out against the lighter, predominant color field. Up close, the surfaces are crowded with beautifully drawn and painted details.”
-Michael Paglia, Westword