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


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.

Don Quade

Excerpt from the book: Colorado Abstract: Paintings and Sculpture by Michael Paglia and Mary Voelz Chandler, 2008