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Life as Art: Cristina Acosta is making her art at all costs

Brushing up on tile work. Bend artist Cristina Acosta is challenging the old truism that art imitates life. A painter, Acosta has learned to let



Brushing up on tile work. Bend artist Cristina Acosta is challenging the old truism that art imitates life. A painter, Acosta has learned to let her art into her everyday world.

"At one point I realized that I needed to take my art off of the canvas, and put it into my life," says Acosta

Acosta's vivid and joyful painting ranges from traditional Mexican influenced Madonnas and tri-paneled ex-votos to her "Paint Happy" series of flowing still lifes. They all explode with the color of an artist doing more than putting paint to canvas. Acosta has transformed her art in a business with her tile painting and color consultation services.

Originally trained at the university level in fine arts, Acosta has branched out dramatically - although this was not necessarily easy. The elite art world of the 1980's didn't necessarily encourage disciplines like tile painting and home decor. However, she says, "I realized that everything could start becoming art for me, and that was incredibly fun. It opened up a whole new world for me."

Acosta's home and studio reflect her expressiveness and flair for color, but she did not always live this way. Acosta said that at one point she was getting paid to make art for very wealthy people, but realized that she had none of her creations in her own home. She has since learned to integrate her work and life.

"Now everything you see here is painted, and I even break the rules by painting the walls of my studio in bright colors," Acosta explains.

The visual world itself is no longer a limit to Acosta's creative expression, which has grown to include writing. With the inspiration of Bend writer and teacher Suzanne Schlosberg, Acosta's book "Paint Happy" achieved a measure of commercial success. She has gone on to make writing an integral part of her life and work. "I learned to approach writing in the same way that I approached painting: as another form of creativity," she said.

Acosta said she had stuck with her art because she loves what she does. "It's like a religious calling for me" she elaborates, "because even when it seems completely, rationally stupid to continue... I am intrinsically driven to go on."

Raised in an exclusive area of Los Angeles by a Mexican father and Anglo mother, Acosta grew up estranged from her Hispanic heritage. As an adult she embraces both sides of her family tree and has found the move to be liberating. "It gives a person more psychological freedom to be different," she says. Acosta's vibrant colors and Mexican influences perform an important function in a rapidly changing town like Bend. "If a place becomes too culturally dense, then it is harder for visually, as well as intellectually, diverse viewpoints to exist," she says.

Cristina Acosta

You can view Acosta's work, use her recipes, read her blog, or contact her for home décor consultation, custom painted tiles, presentations, licensing, and at her website,
Acosta's book, "Paint Happy," is available at the Bend library and can be found on more information on her art, contact the High Desert Art Gallery, 10 NW Minnesota Avenue (Bend), 453 SW 6th Street (Redmond), 281 W Cascade Avenue (Sisters), or online at 

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