Slate Gray July: Two Shows. One Singular, Colorful Sensation. (Plus Bling)!

Telluride Arts’ Art Walk takes place Thursday, July 6. Participating venues are open 5-8pm, hosting receptions to introduce new exhibits and artists. Throughout the month Slate Gray Gallery presents two shows of paintings featuring Sylvia Benitez (in the back room) and Marketa Sivek (in a group show in the front room). For jewelry lovers, find the bling of SASHA by Alexander, yummy eye candy.

Complimentary gallery guides, offering a self-guided tour, are available at participating venues or online at Use it any time to help navigate through the venues which are open to the public most days. 

For more information about the Telluride art galleries and exhibition venues, visit: View more Telluride Arts District upcoming events here:

Go here for more about Slate Gray.

Go here for more about Art Walk in general.

With a tip of the hat to George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” summer time and the livin’ is easy at home here in Telluride where there are vermillion reasons to celebrate the season – outdoors and on the walls of the Slate Gray Gallery.

July features the painting of Sylvia Benitez and Marketa Sivek in two separate shows: “Every day I see majesty,” (Benitez); and “In the Valley of Beautiful Surprises: A Group Exhibition featuring Marketa Sivek.”

Benitez is a landscape painter; Sivek’s work fits neatly into the naive genre historically dedicated to depicting simplicity and frankness. Therefore, on the surface at least, the images of these two artists are very different. But scratch that surface and we find both women are dedicated to revealing stored memories on canvas.

In addition to the gems on the walls, Slate Gray is also hosting a trunk show showcasing the bedazzling bling of Sasha Golovanenko, or SASHA by Alexander, jetsam from a vast ocean of luxe.

Sylvia Benitez:

Continuing ICE 1

Between 1880 and 1920, landscape painting espoused a philosophy whose squishy center revolved around human emotion, sensitivity, and an expanded idea of The Sublime (or Divine)
And the beat goes on with artists like Benitez paying the tradition forward with homespun lyricism. Her abstracted landscapes featuring Big Sky/low ground live at the nexus of site and insight because, in the end, the mirror of art is designed to reflect both the outside world and an artist’s inner landscape.

“A clear artistic path is a gift that reveals the truth about oneself,” neatly sums up Benitez.

Benitez’s encore in town features over 10 recently completed paintings, works that challenged the artist to expand her “visual comfort zone.”

Chocolate Bayou

Her specific approach to mark-making is to mine the rich veins of her memory to represent a personal, therefore unique, vision of her home base, Texas, (in the words the artist): “Be it the flight of wind, the roll of grass or the ripple of water…”


“My work is painted without the aid or use of photographs. Instead, my oil paintings represent a mélange of mental images—the stuff I see everyday as it plays out against the backdrop of the ever-changing Texas landscape. This is the visual bank I pull from… And the stored memories pour out and jumble, reconfiguring on my canvas as new impressions of place and time and weather—alive…”

Every day I see majesty: rolling hills, big skies, long views, and jade-green rivers. Where I live, Mother Nature is still unmarred by modern footprint, and its beauty takes my breath away. My paintings are about that.”

Continuing Ice 2

Benitez, more:

Sylvia Benitez is an artist and curator who spent her formative art years in New York City. Now living outside Seguin, she teaches landscape painting in San Antonio, TX.

Benitez is a recognized installation artist and painter and the recipient of many national awards, including two MacDowell Colony Residencies; two Pollock Krasner awards; An Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Individual Support Grant; an AICA award; and Two National Endowment for the Arts Visiting Artist Fellowships.

Represented by the Hunt Gallery in San Antonio, TX., and now the Slate Gray Gallery in Telluride, CO. Benitez’s work can be found in many private and public collections.

Marketa Sivek:

In the Valley of Beautiful Surprises (Crescent Moon)

Marketa Sivek’s paintings of houses and skies produce powerful emotions in her viewers, 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, serves to underline her childhood story of color deprivation:

“…my House theme is closely connected to safety. It is a place where we all should feel safe. It’s easy to take that for granted.”

Amid grey apartment buildings where color was sparse and clearly a sense of safety absent, structures and houses became metaphors for shelter – as well as for 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 the artist’s finely graded brushstrokes.

Sivek is self-taught and has lived and worked in Chicago for the past 25 years:

“I have painted all my life since I was very little. I grew up under Communism, so we didn’t have many mediums to work with. My dad bought me oil paints when I was 12, four or five tubes of colors that were available mostly in primary colors. There was no gesso, so to seal the canvas that I stretched myself, I cooked these granules of rabbit skin glue my dad got from who knows where on a hot plate in my room. The smell was horrid and our apartment smelled for days. I still remember that smell and the look of the dried-out glue in a pot in my room. I did take classes here and there, but wasn’t interested in following directions. There was no room for individuality and I wanted to experiment,” explains the artist.

The Big Sun, Dandelion

Naïve art is usually defined as visual art created by a person who lacks the formal education and training a professional artist undergoes. The genre has long been valued by modernists seeking to get away from what they see as the insincere sophistication of art created within any traditional system. Henri Rousseau is an archetypical and shining example. Market Sivek’s fine art too, especially given her surprising juxtapositions and dream-like moods.

Sivek will be visiting Telluride for the opening of the exhibition during July Art Walk. Her work will be shown throughout the month alongside Andrew Brown, Rebecca Crowell, Joan Fullerton, Karen Scharer and Maggie Taylor.

This is Happening

SASHA by Alexander:

Sasha Golovanenko is a protean being. Locals have seen him around town since 2000 in many incarnations: from the check-out counter at Clark’s market to bartender, clothing designer and, for eight years, a super star on the Telluride AIDS Benefit’s cat walk.

Nowadays, however, Sasha is hard-focused on designing and crafting fine jewelry, a talent he has been honing with the support and guidance of the other well-established metal artists in the Slate Gray stable – especially Barbara Heinrich. As his primary mentor, when Sasha told her of his passion, Heinrich sent him a box of gemstones – and a green light to go for it.

Initially Sasha created in precious metal clay, but Telluride proved to be to be too dry for that technique to stand up. Ever resourceful, he turned to You Tube, where Sasha taught himself how to create in sheet metal and wire, then in 3D printing and wax. Today he is working in laser-grown metal, which enables him to create deeply detailed pieces.

Initially Sasha created in precious metal clay, but Telluride proved to be too dry for that technique to stand up. Ever resourceful, he turned to YouTube, where Sasha taught himself how to create in sheet metal and wire, then in 3D printing and wax. Today he is working in laser-grown metal, which enables him to create deeply detailed pieces.

Thanks to Barbara’s directive to focus, focus, focus on one unifying theme, Sasha’s metal art now takes inspiration from the cosmos. There are earrings, rings, bracelets and necklaces with names like Cassiopeia Andromeda, Neptune, and Nebula, all fashioned in silver, gold, platinum and precious stones.

How does Sasha feel about his latest incarnation?

“Nervous, excited and eager to share my work.”

Sasha, more:

Sasha Golovanenko was born and raised in the USSR (in the days the empire was intact). His mother was in the military, so mother and son were sent to live in Germany, England and Italy and other exotic locales.

Back in Russia, Sasha attended the Kuban University of Fashion and Design in Sochi, graduating in fashion design. Which helps explain why new work flows like the Danube from his fertile imagination.

Sasha’s curiosity knows no bounds – or boundaries. One year a friend from university wound up by happenstance at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and told Sasha about the wonders of the region.
Eager to become fluent in English, and explore new turf, he packed his bag and headed for our hills.

The rest is history in the making…

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