A dozen or so Telluride galleries will leave their doors open to the cold just a little later than usual this Thursday, March 1. It’s the First Thursday Art Walk, and at the Ah Haa School, three artists, locals all, have solo shows for the first time in the Daniel Tucker and East galleries. The artists approached her separately about showing, says Exhibition Director Lauren Metzger, and “I had the idea to make it into a locals’ group.” The question was how to position the artists: one was a painter, one a sculptor, and one works in mixed media. Metzger decided to pair painter Corinne Scheman and sculptor Michelle Montague in the Daniel Tucker Gallery. “It can be hard to exhibit sculpture by itself in a room,” she explains. “It can sort of get lost in the space.” More to the point, Scheman’s luminous images and abstractions of Stonehenge seemed to match well with Montague’s colorful, chunky clay sculptures of the human figure. The Ah Haa show is a triptych of sculptures, beginning in Daniel Tucker with paintings of sculpted Neolithic stone monuments, as well as sculpted human figures made of clay.
And then there is Brittany Miller, whose two and three-dimensional mixed media pieces can be found in the East Gallery. Though Miller’s work is often assembled from found and reclaimed materials such as old cabinet doors or weathered scrap wood, her real muse is another form of sculpture: the female mannequin. She’s not exactly sure how mannequins got under her skin – only that she’s inspired by them. She used to do a lot of portraits, “But I decided I wanted to use my imagination more,” she says. Over the last couple of years, “the work has sort of taken on a life of its own.”
It’s the same for Montague, who sounds tugged by an invisible thread, deeper into her art. “At the start, my pieces were always functional,” she says. “Making something that wasn’t useful seemed frivolous. But somewhere along the way that changed.” Now, “I find it difficult to make the functional pieces.”
The Ah Haa galleries are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and this Saturday from 12-6 p.m.
Reduction Woodcuts at Weehawken Ouray
Sometime late next week, Jennifer Ghormley will make the trek over the mountains from Denver to Ouray. She instructs on printmaking for a living, and will teach a class on a beautiful variation: the reduction woodcut. A woodcut is a print made from the carving on a block of wood. A reduction woodcut repeats the carving process time and again, carving deeper into the block, and coloring the block differently with each carving. As successive layers of the block are cut away, inked, and printed (usually on paper), the image becomes more complex. It can be a challenging process, but the reward is a “decorative, detailed, beautiful” image with a wood grain in the background, Ghormley says.
The trickiest part is thinking in reverse. In woodcutting, the background is cut away, and the central image is left untouched. “The image flips,” Ghormley says. “You embrace the happy accidents, and the process definitely informs the piece.”
The course will be taught over two days, not because students will be cranking out numerous woodcuts, but because it takes a while for all those layers of ink to dry: the block is carved, stained, another print layer is made, and the process repeats. Usually, students work with only one block. But if a few people get impatient with all that waiting, that’s cool with Ghormley. “We’ll have extra blocks available,” she says. “If someone says they’re ready to jam out on another one, awesome!”
The class takes place Friday and Saturday, Mar. 9-10, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For more info., visit weehawkenarts.org. To see some intriguing examples of color woodcuts, check out the website of the artist who taught Ghormley, at www.karen-kunc.com.
The Red Challenge at Around the Corner Gallery
If Telluride has its First Thursday Art Walk, Montrose has one, too: on the first Friday of every month, Around the Corner Gallery unveils a new artists’ exhibition. The theme this month is red. Owners Bill and Pat Brown challenged local artists to create something beautiful using this color. “What it is, what it means, it’s all up to them,” Bill said of the challenge. Seventeen of the gallery’s own artists, as well as four others from around the region, took them up on it.
By the end of the day on Tuesday, just seven of the works had trickled in, and the owners were eager to see more. Without giving too much away (the works won’t be revealed until 5 p.m. this Friday), the Browns did allow a peek at one entry: the photo of a single, backlit, Japanese maple leaf suspended on a dew-dropped branch. The image of delicate fauna was unusual: it was done by a photographer whose name will remain anonymous until Friday, but whose work has appeared in National Geographic, and who specializes in outsized Alaskan fauna such as salmon-nabbing grizzlies and gamboling polar bears. The only thing the photos had in common was this: they were clearly taken by someone used to waiting for the perfect shot.
The Browns have owned Around the Corner Gallery for four years. Pat is an artist herself – some of her work hangs in the gallery, and she takes classes offered there – and Bill’s the businessman. They concentrate on representing local artists from the Grand Junction-North Fork Valley Gunnison/Montrose area.
Although they first met in Estes Park, Pat and Bill lived all over until returning to Colorado a few years ago. “It felt like coming home,” he said. They try to make the gallery feel a bit like that, too. Over the holidays, the Browns held a “chili challenge,” in which they asked their ceramicists to fashion soup bowls; then they filled the bowls with chili from regional cooks and sold them to the community. The event made $1,700; the couple donated the proceeds to Montrose Art Partners. Pat’s chili took second place, which came as a bit of a shock, considering that it was vegetarian (“Can you believe that?” she exclaimed).
Over the next few days, many more Red works are scheduled to arrive; a few of the gallery’s best artists had yet to be heard from. “The challenges keep us fresh,” Bill said. I wondered how the waiting was going. As he put it, “with baited breath.”
The opening will be held from 5-8 p.m. on Friday. The gallery’s regular hours are 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Art from the Red Challenge will be up through the month of March.