Slate Gray 1/2023: “Sky High,” A Group Show!

Telluride Arts’ January Art Walk takes place Thursday, January 5, 2022. Throughout the month, Slate Gray Gallery features a group show titled “Sky High.”

Go here for an overview of all participating Art Walk galleries. Complimentary gallery guides are available for self-guided tours, at participating venues or online at

Go here for much more about Slate Gray.

Go here for more about Art Walk in general.

Arguably the most famous sky in the art world is Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” (1889), which depicts the view outside the artist’s sanatorium window at Saint-Remy. With its crackling cypresses and spiral constellations, its sun-like moon and whirling clouds, this world-renowned image is an ecstatic expression of country skies as “purer than the suburbs or bars of Paris,” (in the artist’s words).

JWM Turner is renowned for his skies. His late skyscapes in particular, generally painted at sunrise, often on the spot, are very nearly abstract and utterly sublime.

It is never a sunny day in John Constable country, who never met a cloud he did not like. And Constable painted clouds so accurately awed meteorologists can sometimes calculate the season, even the hour, from these images, which the artist famously described as “the chief organ of sentiment” in any landscape.

Picking up that thread from Constable and the other greats, the sky was the muse that triggered the artist’s inner will to form in the in the latest group show at Slate Gray, up through the month of January. Aptly titled “Sky High” featured artists include Mark Bowles, Gordon Brown, Jill Holland, Angela Okajima-Kempinas (or AOK), Molly Perrault, Marketa Sivek, Maggie Taylor, and Jerry Uelsmann.

Mark Bowles:

View from the Ridge

Though the work on display happens to be skyscapes, painter Mark Bowles is relatively agnostic to subject:

“Whether I am working with a still life, the human figure, or landscape, what fascinates me, compels me to paint, is texture, form and color, which I use in expressing how I feel about what I am seeing…My heart is always pushing my work to find a new language to express what I see and how I feel about that. The result therefore is not just an intellectual exercise, it is being involved in the Now, open for change and challenge, always evolving.”

In other words, Bowles’ acrylics do not record. They evoke. Which means his paintings accurately describe the emotions certain special places stirred in the artist.

(And soon, in you.)

A Landscape in Time

Go here for more about the artist and his work. 

Gordon Brown:

Clearing of the Storm

“My paintings are all about light and mood,” Colorado native Gordon Brown explains.

Brown never tires of the view from his converted barn/studio in Ridgway, a place that allows him to observe firsthand the various moods and palettes of the changing seasons and skies.

Over the years, Brown has continued to show his appreciation for the subtleties and drama created by changing light, the through-line of his work, which depicts an idealized, somewhat (or entirely) abstracted, natural world.

Lifting Clouds

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Jill Holland:

When Heaven Speaks

Jill Holland now lives Montana, a place that has always been close to her heart with its wide-open spaces and big skies. The artist depicts those dramatic landscapes and skyscapes abstractly and in a variety of mediums to leave room for the imagination of the viewer to fill in the story.

Paths We Choose

Go here for more.

Angela Okajima-Kempinas (or AOK):

Shiro Petals

Japan is home to the oldest known ceramics in the world. But the country is a long long way from Long Island City, Queens, New York, the location of Japanese-American artist Angela Okajima-Kempinas’s studio. There AOK (as she signs her wall art) does her part to hold up the millennia-old artistic tradition.

But AOK is doing that discipline her way.

Which is AOK.

AOK defines her creations as dimensional paintings: biomorphic forms that refer to and/or evoke living forms such as plants or the human body – like the work of Arp, Miro, Klee for three examples.

Why is the work included in “Sky High?”

In the words of Slate Gray artistic director Allison Cannella: We included “Shiro Petals” in the show because of the way the petals seem to float on the wind. In a way, the gallery is the sky and her petals are passing through on a breeze.”

Shiro Petals

Go here and here for more about the artist and her work.

Molly Perrault:

Ever So Slightly

Molly Perrault uses paper shards carefully cut from magazines for the color and textures in her masterpieces, obsessively, meticulously, seamlessly manipulating these jigsaw puzzle-like pieces to create the illusion of painting without paint. With a focus on rendering landscapes/skyscapes the artist is driven to reflect and slowly reconstruct places that have been sources of inspiration, adventure, and comfort.

Perrault’s process is cyclical: nature is the source of  the paper on which the magazines are printed, then used again to represent nature, underlining acts of destruction and reconstruction.

Go here for more.

Marketa Sivek:


Marketa Sivek’s paintings of houses and skies produce powerful emotions in the viewer, their narratives deeply rooted in her childhood growing up in the authoritarian regime of communist Czechoslovakia. And Sivek’s desire for color, lots of it, underlines her childhood story.

Amid grey apartment buildings where color was sparse and sense of safety absent, structures and houses are metaphors for  shelters, as well as circumstances that can change on a dime. Lost in the infinity of the vast sky as clear as sapphire, grounded by a moon or planet, complexity meets simplicity when the heavy layers of paint harmonize with finely graded brushstrokes.

The self-taught artist has lived and worked in Chicago for past 25 years.

As a Leaf on a Mountain

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Maggie Taylor:

Why Not?

In the rarefied universe of fine art photography Maggie Taylor is a super nova.

Over the years, the artist has produced a body of work that infuses the ordinary and mundane with a sense of magic and mystery, her skies often serving as a watchful eye over magical story lines.

In her studio, Taylor has drawers and shelves filled with all kinds of objects and pieces of text, plus Daguerreotype or Tin Type portraits of unknown subjects from the 19th century. The artist choreographs the detritus of her life indoors before taking the items outside into her yard to photograph them with an old-view camera in natural light. An avid gardener, Taylor also finds inspiration as well as actual material to scan when outside. She then builds stories around those images by combining her own photographs and scanned objects to create digital collages in Photoshop, in the end creating the final product from as many as 200 layers.

A World of Her Own

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Jerry Uelsmann:

Flying Figure Colorado

Fact: The dearly departed Jerry Uelsmann and the aforementioned Maggie Taylor are (or were in his case) photography world royalty. The work of these widely collected image-makers hangs in major museums around the globe, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Gallery of Art,Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum; the Royal Photographic Society and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

A virtuoso in the darkroom, Uelsmann pioneered and perfected new developing techniques. On three or more of the eight enlargers in his Florida darkroom, he combined parts of all of two or more negatives, which he burned and dodged (exposed sections to more or less light) to make his final, seamless black-and-white, now legendary prints.

As is the case with Maggie Taylor, Uelmann’s skies serve as benign witnesses to the surreal storylines that populate his work.

The Alpha Tree

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