Touch Of The Islands
Robison brings Cabana Joe's walls to life
(February 2002) MADISON, Ind. Joe Torlines long-held
vision for his new restaurant, Cabana Joes, was to create a tropical
atmosphere to complement the food he would serve.
He needed an artist who would help him create the elements
of this theme and bring them to life. He found that artist in Carlyn
As Torline was putting the finishing touches on his restaurant in January,
Robison was completing nearly three rooms of tropical-themed murals.
The project has been ongoing since mid-December, but it is an enjoyable
one for the Scottsburg, Ind., mural artist.
What I am doing is setting a visual mood, said Robison,
53. I feel very pleased to have worked with such special people
in such a fun place. They have allowed me to grow with my work and given
me the freedom to go for it.
Robison said the Cabana Joes murals have been her largest project
to date. She has been composing murals for about six years, mostly in
private homes. But her artistic inspiration dates back more than 40
years to a mural painter by whom she was inspired. She remembered her
artistic calling coming at age 10. Her mother hired an artist to compose
a mural in their Austin, Ind., home.
Id like to know that gentlemens name, said Robison.
I would credit him now. His work fascinated me.
From then on, she was hooked on painting.
I didnt play with dolls, she said. I made their
homes and painted their rooms.
Beyond painting, her artwork includes soft-sculpture dolls and hand-painted
furniture. In the latter category, she has painted pieces of furniture
for people to resemble or match a piece they grew up with that was handed
down to them. Her exhibition resume includes the St. James Art Show
in Louisville, Ky., and the Country Peddler and Country Folk Art shows.
Her mural work started with a style of art called tromp loeil.
This is a French word meaning fool the eye because the whole
premise behind the style deals with using two-dimensional images to
create the image of three-dimensional.
In a way, it is similar to murals and backdrops at theatre productions,
though Robison has taken it to new limits by creating this style for
For example, there is a home in which she has painted a grandfather
clock that looks like it is enclosed in a small space. But as one draws
nearer, what appears to be three-dimensional really is two-dimensional.
It is visual trickery, she said. It is a particular
style of painting which I suppose I have become quite skilled at.
Her mural work can been seen all over Madison. In the Vail-Holt Funeral
Home on Main Street she designed a mural that depicts an overview of
Madisons riverfront and historic church buildings in town. Many
of the murals she has done in private homes have been featured in local
The home tours were particularly good to me because a lot of people
got to see my work, said Robison.
Robison has developed a following over the past few years, especially
by word of mouth from those who appreciate her work.
Last year Robison painted a large mural in the home of Tom and Mary
Davee in the dining room of their Madison, Ind., home. It combined scenes
from a book Mary liked with pictures from the couples European
and Mediterranean cruise and their front yard fountain.
She personalized it so much, said Mary Davee. It is
a combination of so many things I really like. I enjoyed working with
her so much. She is very talented.
Torlines wife, Cheryl, found out about her work by word of mouth.
It is amazing. It has taken us to a new level, she said.
We were trying to get a tropical feel through decor, and she has
surpassed our expectations.
Part of the work Robison did at Cabana Joes was a two-dimensional
painting extending from an actual three-dimensional waterfall made from
stone. The work on the waterfall was done by Bob Koestel of Waterfall
Creations in Scottsburg, Ind.
As for Robison, her next project will be a mural in the building that
now houses Miss Vivians Tanning Parlor, 107 Miles Ridge Rd. She
has already created a mural for Miss Vivians in Scottsburg and
plans to create a garden scene with Cherubs for the Madison building.
She does outstanding work and was is so amazing is that she was
not formally trained in art. Everything is self-taught, said Vivian
Gregory, who owns Miss Vivians and had Robison paint a mural at
her previous location on Clifty Drive. Gregory first learned about Robison
from her mother, who had Robison create a mural in her Scottsburg store,
Victorian Hope Chest.
Robison said, Ive been very fortunate in that the people
Ive worked with are excited about my work. It evokes something
special to them, and I really work with people to create what they envision.
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