Telluride Arts Art Walk: Sarah Van Beckum at Slate Gray in Sept.

Telluride Arts Art Walk: Sarah Van Beckum at Slate Gray in Sept.

Telluride Arts’ First Thursday Art Walk is a festive celebration of the art scene in downtown Telluride, Participating venues host receptions to introduce new exhibits.August Art Walk takes place Thursday, August 1, 5 – 8 p.m.

Telluride Gallery of Fine Art presents the work of abstract painter/curator/teacher James Hayward and figurative painter Dan McCleary. (Go here for more on that show.)

Gallery 81435  features Fawn Atencio in her solo exhibit, “Selected Territories,” on display through the month of September 2019. Atencio has recently been exploring how we connect to land as a form of identity. “I am interested in how places tell stories, create memories, and transfer meaning,” says Atencio. Growing up in Colorado, her grandparents were avid fishermen and women who, year after year took Atencio and her siblings to explore, fish, and camp in the Rio Grande National Forest. “The landscape seemed very magical to me as a child. It wasn’t until I spent an extensive period of time Asia and northern Africa as an adult, that I realized how much of my identity is formed by the American Western landscape.”

Telluride Arts HQ is proud to present “The Right Tool for the Job: The Future of the Robot Industrial Revolution,” an exhibit by returning artist Dave Pressler. The humorous but gritty worlds populated with robots and monsters that Pressler creates have always involved his characters begrudgingly fulfilling their duties, almost like holding up a robot-tinted mirror to the lives we have to live to make money and keep society going. For the first time ever, with this automation and AI-driven industrial revolution we’re currently witnessing, Pressler’s whimsical robot world is coming into its own and perhaps serving as an extension of reality. Pressler’s newest exhibition humorous goes beyond the scenes of what the robots will have to deal with as we pass off more and more work to them.

Over the past 20 years, Pressler has designed characters and worlds for such companies as Kid’s WB, Disney, Fox Kids Network, Wild Brain, and The Jim Henson Company to name a few. In the last decade, he shifted his focus to the universe of TV animation, where he has co-created and designed for the Emmy-nominated “Robot And Monster” for Nickelodeon. Most recently, Pressler art-directed “Boss Baby Back In Business” for Dreamworks TV. Pressler’s spirit of exploration and adventure is more than just Earthbound; he intends to be the first animator in space and currently holds one of the few passes to travel to space with Virgin Galactic.

MiXX Projects + Atelier is featuring a show of the work of California-based artist/philosopher Lisa Swerling, who crafts tiny sparkling worlds in little white boxes, thought-provoking, at times laugh-out-loud funny and always emotionally nuanced vignettes. Among her dioramas is a series that riffs on favorite films from yesterday (“Vertigo” and “Fargo”) and closer to today (“Free Solo”). Not to be missed.

And Slate Gray Gallery presents paintings by Expressionist artist Sarah Van Beckum.  Scroll down for more on Van Beckum and listen to her podcast.

Go to Telluride Arts to read about the work  in all of the participating galleries.

Sarah Van Beckum, “Storm on the Rise.”

A philosopher once said great thinkers and creatives are either foxes or hedgehogs. Foxes are interested in many things. Hedgehogs like to dig deep. Artist Sarah Van Beckum is a a mutant, a mix of both critters.

For starters, Van Beckum is clearly interested in many things such as travel, especially places like Columbia, Mexico City and Paris, all of which have influenced the work she produces in her studio near Denver.

She is also interested in language studies and once taught Spanish and French in high school.

Sarah Van Beckum, “Whisper.”

Van Beckum’s interest in design and textiles began when she was a child, who dreamed up fabric designs in her head and transferred them to paper. In fact, the artist once earned a living dressmaking and tailoring in a couturier shop.

Van Beckum was once drawn to a family friend, a children’s book illustrator, “a wonderfully creative cook, a master gardener as well as an exquisite artist.”

And she is interested in and inspired by “the moods and whims of nature.”

Sarah Van Beckum, “Emotional Rescue.”

Nature is also the place the artist digs deep to produce her shape-shifting, dizzily colored and textured paintings made with acrylics only or sometimes with oil pastels too such as in “Emotional Rescue.”

Reflecting Mother Nature’s shifting emotional palette, Van Beckum’s work can be quiet and contemplative or energetic and aggressive, her colors correspondingly noisy or subdued – or both in the same work, portraying an internal shift in mood: calm, energetic, joyful, agitated. Truth is the artist acts with a “bold fearlessness” in response to an inner voice that talks to her about Nature and the world at large.

Van Beckum, “Journey to the Sea.”

What’s more, Van Beckum is prone to digging hedgehog deep to establish order in her life through the process of making art which she sums up beautifully as “a soul tantrum or celebration that is played out with paint on a surface.” The goal: to find her place amongst the noise.

In that process and despite the fact Beckum’s work appears abstract, recognizable images from her memory bank bubble to her surfaces like road signs that point to hidden fears and struggles, sources of joy and comfort, all of which trigger her creative outbursts.

Since her work represents “soul tantrums,” are they then surrogates for the artist herself, her avatars? Beckum says no:


“The paintings are not me. They are offspring, each with a distinctive personality. Conflicts with the works arise in their creation, but self-discovery takes place along the way. When a settled place is found, then the painting is complete, and I feel the serenity and rightness of the the outcome.”

Image, Sarah Van Beckum.




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