Telluride Gallery March: Group Show + 3 New Artists, Opens 3/5!

Telluride Gallery March: Group Show + 3 New Artists, Opens 3/5!

Go here for more on the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art and the current, color-forward group show which includes the work of Frank Gaard, Kristin Beinner James, Tony Berlant, Michael Reafsnyder, Charles Arnoldi, Victoria Huckins, Jennifer Wolf, Nicole Finger, LéAna Clifton, Kelly O’Connor, and Nelson Parrish. Go here for other shows opening with Telluride Arts’ March Art Walk on March 5.

Noah, Frank Gaard, whose work is also featured in the March group show at the Telluride Gallery.

Unlike conventional mixed-media pieces created from cutouts of random images from magazines or photographs and taped or glued to a surface, the iconic Left Coast artist Tony Berlant works with photo-printed metal (using the artist’s own images, plus vintage and modern metal signage and graphics) and found tin, which he fastens to panels with shiny steel nails, surrogates for his thumb print. The end result is a hybrid that lies at the intersection of painting, sculpture, and photography, also Pop art (for its appropriation and elevation of everyday objects), assemblage, and abstraction. The work is, at once, all of, yet none of the above: Berlant is his own “ism.”

Tilt in Time.

Jennifer Wolf’s experience in archaeology had a major impact on her art, inspiring her to focus on the use of natural materials including minerals, rocks, and natural dyes as the source of her pigments and color palette, which includes, in the words of the artist:”oxides and mineral deposits that run deep in the Earth’s crevices.”

It is Wolf’s color palette and her focus on fluid reactions of paint that sets her art apart from the pack and gives it all a naturally distinctive feel. Unapologetically beautiful, Wolf’s paintings explore the elemental nature of color and texture.

Landscape, Jennifer Wolf.

The term “action painter” takes on a whole new, far less subtle meaning when applied to artist Nelson Parrish, who has lived his life in constant motion. His art features flashes of color – how we see our world in motion – captured in planed wooden planks that are wrapped in layers of semi-transparent and color-infused bio-resin. These works, fusions of painting and sculpture, are very physical abstractions that capture and freeze many of the breakneck moments in the artist’s life when his perceptions of the world are intensified, when colors naturally develop richer personalities.

Add to the names of those three artists, mainstays in the stable of the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, three new names: Nicole Finger, LéAna Clifton, and Kelly O’Connor.

Nicole Finger:

Whether she is painting people, horses – or pastries now – the style Nicole Finger has developed over the years is distinctive: the artist favors a minimalist, modern palette to sculpt larger-than-life images in paint as she strives for realism (on steroids) without sacrificing the rich, textural quality of the paint as it aligns with the sensuous, sometimes luscious attributes of the subject at hand.


One of the contemporary masters of “yummy” in paint is Wayne Thiebaud (b.1920), best known for his still-lifes of edible treats and everyday objects rendered in his singular illustrative style. His most popular subject matter includes colorful cakes, slices of pie, and candy.

Like Thiebaud, like the Pop artists of the mid- to late-1950s, Finger has always been intrigued by the idea of elevating ordinary subjects through art, including most recently food. And given our societal obsession with health, sweets and baked goods are fast becoming endangered species, so Finger’s images of goodies become tributes to what could become fond memories of things past. What’s more, the thickness of icing, an impasto of lavish goo, and the countless variations on the theme of shape and color from Twinkies to lollipops offer fertile ground for painterly play in oils.


Growing up in Bethesda, Maryland, Finger was influenced by her artist mother, as well as her father’s lifelong passion with race horses, which he owned. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Colorado in Boulder, she worked in various artistic disciplines, including illustration. Finger continues to draw inspiration from the spectacular beauty of the San Juan Mountains that surround her long-time home: Telluride.

LéAna Clifton:

LéAna Clifton is a Marfa Texas-based artist, born in Pretoria, South Africa, working in mixed-media for over 12 years.

Clifton has a passion for large fields of color and contrasting line. For the past six years, she has focused almost exclusively on creating small- and large-scale abstract images of freight trains running through the far West Texas high-desert, endeavoring to capture their visceral power, movement, color, and contrasting lines.

Clifton was exposed to art and photography at a young age. And photography became the vehicle through which she could parse the world on her own terms, a camera her way to communicate – and escape. As she progressed, the images Clifton created became more obscure and abstract, also more hauntingly beautiful. And as her work become increasingly visceral in nature, she distilled it all down to what was minimal, yet essential: light, form, color, movement, and time, so the viewer could more easily feel the excitement and dynamism of the moments the artist had set out to capture.

In her most recent body of mixed-media work Clifton brings together her love of abstract, long-exposure photography – with no digital manipulation– and traditional hand techniques such as pencil and paint directly applied over the photograph. Each piece in the series is completely original.

“I’ve always been inspired by the visceral nature of light in its own right. The various photography techniques I use have enabled me to play with light, and hence color and time. To stretch it, to distill it, to break it, and redefine it. To use the camera as a tool to paint with light, in a manner. They blur the line between reality and a dream-state. A 4th dimension. The relationship between time and light is also integral to my work. My images capture more than an instant in time –my still images represent many ‘instants’ merged.”

Kelly O’Connor:

Driven by memory, fantasy, fiction, and pop culture, Kelly O’Connor drills into the American consciousness by focusing on iconic characters and moments. Her goal: to expose what is behind the public facades society generally embraces. The faces behind the faces that we meet…

Throughout history, society has struggled with contradictions within popular culture: beautiful female characters with a look of (artificial) bliss or (antidepressant-driven) happiness, mesmerized and/or controlled by seductive products and situations; many male characters standing in for the ominous “man behind the curtain,” who is pulling the strings.

The scenes O’Connor creates represent the calcified remains of a culture obsessed with production and destruction. By appropriating idealized American landscapes and icons, the artist’s non-linear narratives intentionally leave the situation ambiguous so that the viewer can superimpose his or her own experiences onto what the artist is portraying.

Using collage fashioned from found images drawn from films, advertising, and magazines, as well as amusement park and travel memorabilia from the 1950’s and 1960’s, O’Connor plays with color and scale, juxtaposing candy-colored surfaces that are almost sickly sweet with papers sampled from vintage record covers. The contrast of sparkling rays and bright neon against weathered, dull tones acts as a metaphor for the dualities that coexist in our society.

Kelly O’Connor studied Visual Arts at the University of Texas at Austin where she received a BFA in Studio Art in 2005. The San Antonio Museum of Art, the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Women and Their Work in Austin, and the Blaffer Museum in Houston have all shown her work. The artist was also included in the Texas Biennial and New American Paintings in 2013. She is the Collection and Exhibitions Officer at the Linda Pace Foundation in San Antonio, TX.

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    Posted at 18:02h, 02 March

    […] In March the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art presents four new artists in a group exhibition. LéAna Clifton of Marfa, TX presents hand-manipulated, long-exposure abstract photographs of freight trains running through the West Texas desert. Telluride’s own Nicole Finger presents a series of masterful photorealist oil paintings. Kelly O’Connor of San Antonio, TX, creates juxtapositions of appropriated film stills, advertising and magazine images with brightly hued whimsical collage elements. Additional artists from the gallery stable are also on display in this very colorful, eclectic group show. (Go here for more on that show.) […]