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Monday, August 24, 2015

Diamond Girl: The Flawless Art of Angie Crabtree

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge ANGIE CRABTREE
  • Angie Crabtree

Tucked away in a tiny Berkeley studio, built in 1894, lie brilliant, enormous diamonds of every shape and size, cut to perfection, with every facet reflecting a rainbow of light. This isn't a secret stash of gemstones, but rather the latest work of 28-year-old artist Angie Crabtree.

"My work revolves around pop culture and materialism, because I’m fascinated with the idea of luxury," Crabtree explained to SF Weekly. "I was raised on a ranch in the North Bay, so those things weren’t part of my lifestyle. I first began noticing fashion trends and social status when I moved to the city in 2005."

click to enlarge ANGIE CRABTREE
  • Angie Crabtree

Painting since the age of 4, the San Francisco Art Institute graduate has commented on materialism through drawings of gold grills, Renaissance-style celebrity icons, and fashion accessories, using unexpected touches such as moss, sugar, and gold leaf. In her series, “Living the Dream,” where she painted 5-foot-tall reproductions of small, powerful objects, Crabtree's rendition of a 105-carat diamond opened the doors to this latest collection, entitled "Diamonds Are Forever."

Mesmerized by "both their controversy and allure, last year I began focusing on diamond paintings," she states. A study-abroad trip to former diamond capital Amsterdam solidified her desire to capture the brilliant gemstones. Crabtree bases her paintings on high-resolution photos of real gemstones, and has top jewelers offering to send her pricey baubles as references for custom, commissioned pieces. They range in size from 18” x 18” to 60” x 60”, and are painted in "oils with glazing to reflect traditional techniques of painting for royalty."

click to enlarge ANGIE CRABTREE
  • Angie Crabtree

click to enlarge ANGIE CRABTREE
  • Angie Crabtree
The result: photo-realistic renditions, spectacular in their attention to detail, colors, and appearing as flawless as pristine diamonds. "In the past few months, I’ve shipped paintings to collectors in Hong Kong, Copenhagen, London, Monte Carlo, New York and Vegas, that found me through Instagram."

As much as she likes to dabble in the rich and spectacular, this artist's focus is always on what really matters — giving back and bringing attention to worthy causes. Crabtree taught art full-time in both private and public schools, until leaving this summer to focus on her burgeoning career. However, she hasn't left art education fully behind.

"When I’m not in my studio, I try to stay involved with education because it’s so important to me," she said. "I volunteer-teach at-risk youth in San Francisco with 1 Brush Initiative, and donate a portion of my sales to The Greener Diamond Foundation, a charity that runs a 100-acre farm in Sierra Leone that houses, employs and educates child soldiers who left the mining industry."

So what's next for Angie Crabtree?

"For my next series, I’ve begun researching royal gems and mining tools," she said.

After art exhibitions at galleries including 111 Minna, Ever Gold, AI, and Root Division, she's looking forward to her next show in the spring at Rocha Art Gallery. With intriguing art, worldwide interest in her work, and endless inspiration in the world of luxury, Crabtree's career promises to shine bright — like a diamond.

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V. Alexandra de F. Szoenyi


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