Telluride Arts: 1st Art Walk Of 2015
Some women live by “The Rules.” Others write new rules every day. Meet Pia-squared.
Pia-squared is Pia Kamala and Pia Gedeon, two abundantly talented ladies who have redefined the term “MIXXology.”
Simply calling their brand new venue, MIXX Projects + Atelier, 309 East Colorado, a gallery would be as dated as the doilies you inherited from your great aunt. MIXX is an intoxicating cocktail of artisan home products, inventive jewelry, and the art of emerging and internationally recognized artists such as Sandra Chevrier and Marco Grassi whose work is featured in the current show: “Camouflage: Portrait Reinterpreted.”
“Camouflage is part of the Telluride Arts District‘s’ Art Walk, a celebration of creativity in downtown Telluride and a meet-and-greet for art lovers, community and friends.
The first Art Walk of 2015 includes 19 venues, hosting receptions from 5 – 8 p.m. to introduce new exhibitions and artists. A free Art Walk Map, available at participating sites and at the Telluride Arts offices located in the Stronghouse Studios + Gallery at 283 South Fir Street, offers a self-guided tour.
At MIXX, “Camouflage” picks up where 19th-century philosopher John Stuart Mill left off when he wrote (in 1869) “…the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes – the legal subordination of one sex to the other – is wrong in itself and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement that ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality…”
It picks up from the late 1960s when Gloria Steinem went way undercover, dressing like a Playboy bunny to prove exploitation of women in the clubs.
Yes, we’ve come a long way baby, but there is still a ways to go when six-year-old girls get their blond hair blonded and eyes painted for beauty contests and lithe Lolitas get tricked out like grown-ups to model designer fashions in the glossies.
Both Chevrier and Grassi are interested in busting society’s twisted notions of what a woman should or should not be. Their work boldly examines the extent to which women to succeed, yes still today, must be preoccupied with appearance and hide their true beauty behind a variety of masks and costumes.
Specifically in Chevrier’s work – which sells out at Art Basel and is now in the hands of collectors all over the globe – U.S., Europe, South America, Netherlands, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Russia – pin-up beautiful, mysterious women are dressed or masked by collaged comic book fragments, suggesting “Cages,” the name of the series.
Painting on wood, aluminum and canvas in heavily saturated colors, Grassi portrays young women nearly liquified by Abstract Expressionistic strokes in what amounts to an elaborate play on the game of hide and seek, both concealing and revealing tantalizing sensuality.
“Strong archetypal female figures are too rarely lauded in contemporary culture in which young women, the idolization of societal beauty, have little alternative other than to project their changing selfhood through sexual desirability,” said Kamala.
Pia Kamala has been involved in the contemporary art scene as both maker and promoter, working around the world from Denver to Dharamsala founding and directing art spaces and educating young people.
In the two years she was away from Telluride, Kamala worked in the central coast of California to apply systems theory to communities of small -to medium-sized organic farmers to develop resilience to peak oil and peak soil. Mentored in bee keeping, she now teaches apiculture and has 40 bee hives in micro habitats on the coast.
Kamala returned to open MIXX from Iceland, where she was working with the government to create permaculture education and on an aggressive plan to expand organic food production on the island.
“I will go back in spring for an art show of my work in Reykjavik and to install a show I arranged for Danielle DeRoberts, a local artist, in a five-story lighthouse. In the summer, I will return again for an artist residency and to finalize a documentary.”
Pia Gedeon was born in Syria, but migrated to the U.S. at the age of 13. She lived in New York for 20 years, where she studied fashion design and marketing at FIT and art history at Hunter College. She worked in the fashion design field for about 10 years, before changing her focus to home furnishings.
” I felt that there was more creativity in home design and the switch helped me to focus on fine art, which has always been my true passion.”
Gedeon worked for Federated Department Stores, where she developed a private label luxury brand, traveling the world to design and source new products. Following a move to Boston, she launched the J Jill home catalog and helped the company design new retail stores. Her last position in Boston was home design director for the TJX corporation. She moved to Telluride with her husband and daughter 4 1/2 years ago.
The two Pias met in Telluride.
“Our names are a cosmic giggle to ensure we would meet,” said Kamala. “We are both deeply passionate about art and design, yes, but also activism and geopolitics. Our shared idea was to create an environment saturated in art and visually stimulating that would also inspire inquiry and collaboration. We are both doers.”
Other highly recommended shows include:
Multi-media sculptor and prop master extraordinaire Mike Stasiuk is blessed with an unbridled imagination and wit, reinforced by many years of teaching and collaborating with children (and adults). His figurative wooden creations, his “little friends,” are possessed of an uncanny sense of animation and character at once innocent and profound, universal and timeless. The artist’s child-like sensibility tracks with the notion of “play” (noun and verb), which comes into, ahem, play big time in Stasiuk’s life and work.
(For more on the artist, go here.)
The role of rocks in the world of metal artist Sally Simpson is non-traditional.
Sally combines unpolished stones found on beaches all over the world and other natural materials such as ocean glass and Tahitian pearls with silver, gold, brass and copper to create her signature pieces of jewelry – which makes the wind and the waves her primary business partners. It is their intrinsic simplicity, their unadorned beauty, and their references to commonly held uncommon experiences, their rough surfaces in combination with shiny metal or the warmth of leather that appeals to the artist.
(For more about Sally Simpson and her jewelry, go here.)
Stasiuk and Simpson were the featured artists at the Ah Haa School for the Arts’ (300 South Townsend) New Year’s Eve gala. Their work remains on display through the third week in January.
Arroyo, 220 East Colorado Avenue
For the holiday season, Arroyo highlights three artists: William Zinanti, Michael Christian and Amy Schilling, also the gallery’s curator.
Zinanti’s work swings complex groupings of forms from a scaffold of clean line and geometric underpinnings. His fearless appraisals of modern art’s rich legacy reminds us that great art always arises out of a passion for life. Arroyo will be showing 40 works on paper.
Michael Christian, a Telluride Fire Festival artist, will be showing whimsical metal sculptures in a preview of more sculptures to come.
Amy Schilling continues her exploration of petroglyph images and transforming them into other materials. This is the first showing of Amy Schillings wall sculptures.
Gallery 81435: Contemporary Telluride, 230 South Fir
Gallery 81435 rings in the New Year with Colorado artist Stephanie Morgan Rogers. The paintings and illustrations in Roger’s new work reflect her ongoing fascination with the cycles of nature and the dichotomy between heaven and earth.
Illuminate: [v. ih-loo-muh-neyt] to supply or brighten with light; light up. To make lucid or clear; throw light on.
Rogers finds inspiration in classic literature, fairytales, and all things old. Her new pieces are based on 14th-century European manuscripts, created in a fertile moment in history just before the Renaissance. Using a variety of mediums such as ink, acrylics, oil and gouache on vintage materials, the work is all about coming out of the dark (ages) into the light.
Stephanie Morgan Rogers lives and works in Ridgeway, Colorado. Visit www.stephaniemorganrogers.com for commissions and previous collections.
Stronghouse Studios & Gallery, 283 South Fir
Telluride Arts kicks off the winter season at Stronghouse Studios + Gallery with a multi-media exhibit, “Sticks & Stones,” featuring paintings, drawings and jewelry. Art imitates life in this collection that presents meditations on the natural world by three artists: Meredith Nemirov, from Ridgway; Susan Makara, from Virginia; and Susan L. Hutton, from Maine. The exhibit runs through January 31.
Sticks & Stones features small, abstract works by Meredith Nemirov, for whom the act of painting amounts to a daily meditation practice. In part, her reputation is based on observational on-site drawings that focus on the trees (mostly aspens) in the landscape, hence the series, “100 Views of the Aspen Tree.”
For Nemirov, the magic is in repetition, her creative process fueled by intense observation of her subject matter over time, which moves progressively closer to abstraction, so viewers get to see the essence of the tree, not just its physical reality.
The small works featured in this exhibit are mixed media: watercolor, gouache, pigment marker and graphite on paper. Referencing topographical maps that were made by the USGS surveyors in the 19th century, Nemirov appropriates the patterns and lines that were employed to graphically represent landforms.
These drawings are about interconnectedness and the movement and change always taking place in the physical world.
Meredith Nemirov grew up in New York City and since 1988, has made her home in Ridgway, Colorado.
Artist Susan Makara also looks for patterns in the natural world and brings her illuminated stone Cairn paintings to the exhibit.
While on a hike in Sedona, Arizona, in 2000, Makara stumbled upon an area covered by hundreds of manmade pillars of balanced rocks. The red rock glitter of the Cairns transfixed her and right then she determined to capture the sparkle of those precarious piles in her work.
Using a combination of metallic leaf and oil, Makara gives her rock works the illusion of an inner glow that changes with the light. Just as Cairns mark significant routes and tombs, Makara’s rock works mark her personal journey through life and work. For Makara, making art is medicine, its calming, healing qualities have always helped her through difficulties, illness and grief.
A one-time resident of Colorado, Makara now lives in Alexandria, Virginia, where she maintains a studio in the renowned Torpedo Factory Art Center, home to the largest collection of publicly accessible working artist studios in the U.S. An accomplished painter and photographer Makara was honored as Torpedo Factory’s Artist of the Year” in 2012.
A counterpoint to Makara’s mountain cairns, “Sticks & Stones” also features the elegant beach stone jewelry of Susan L. Hutton.
Living in Maine, Hutton enjoys walking the rock-strewn beaches of Deer Isle and other local islands, collecting stones along the way for her jewelry. Back in her studio, the artist lovingly cuts, shapes and polishes each stone, thoughtfully setting what has been revealed into simple but elegant sterling silver pieces.
Hutton finds joy in the intense focus of working with natural materials and fully embraces the simplicity of nature. When Hutton selects a rock for cutting, she follows what seems to be the will of each stone, like Nemirov, finding the process meditative: the first slice determining the second and so on.
Susan L. Hutton grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania, has been making jewelry since the 1970s, and was a member of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen.
Stronghouse Studios + Gallery is open most days from 12-6 p.m. or by appointment, 970.728.3930.
Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, 130 East Colorado
January 2015 Art Walk, featuring the work of Emmi Whitehorse, marks the 30th anniversary kick-off for the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art. The artist is in town for the opening reception.
The Gallery has represented Whitehorse’s work for over 20 years. The artist is widely known for her large, abstract, mixed-media panels, largely created with chalk, oil-stick, and pigment rubbed, drawn, and scratched onto paper and applied to canvas. The ethereal work explores memory and land and her Navajo culture. Whitehorse’s images are part of many notable collections and is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, New York, NY.
“As an artist I have intentionally avoided politically-oriented subject matter and angst-ridden or physical wrestling with the act of painting itself. To make art, the act of making art must stay true to a harmonious balance of beauty, nature, humanity and the whole universe. This is in accordance with Navajo philosophy. I have chosen to focus on nature, on landscape.
“My paintings tell the story of knowing land over time – of being completely, microcosmically within a place. I am defining a particular space, describing a particular place. They are purposefully meditative and mean to be seen slowly. The intricate language of symbols refer to specific plants, people and experiences.
“…My work is about and has always been about land, about being aware of our surroundings and appreciating the beauty of nature. I am concerned that we are no longer aware of those. The calm and beauty that is in my work I hope serves as a reminder of what is underfoot, of the exchange we make with nature. Light, space and color are the axis around which my work evolves.”
About the Telluride Arts District:
The Telluride Arts District offices are located in the historic Stronghouse at 283 South Fir Streetand at Gallery 81435 at 230 South Fir Street
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