Slate Gray March: “Peaks & Petals,” featuring paintings by Nicole Finger and Kathryn Tatum + Bling!

Slate Gray March: “Peaks & Petals,” featuring paintings by Nicole Finger and Kathryn Tatum + Bling!

Thursday, March 7, 2024, marks the third Telluride Arts’ Art Walk of 2024. Participating venues are open 5-8pm, hosting receptions to introduce new exhibits and artists. Throughout the month Slate Gray Gallery presents “Peaks & Petals.” (Lauren Chisholm is the featured jeweler.)

Go here for more about Slate Gray.

Go here for more about Telluride Arts and Art Walk.

Please scroll down to read interviews with Nicole Finger and Kathryn Tatum, the two talented artist whose work is on display throughout the month.

In very broad terms yin is “feminine” energy and yang, “masculine. Yin/yang is, according to Chinese philosophy, the coherent fabric of nature and mind, present everywhere and in everyone and everything. When balanced, these forces promote peace and harmony.

And, as beautifully expressed in new work by Nicole Finger, which juxtaposes flowers and mountains:

“Profoundly humbled by such breathtaking landscapes in her own backyard in the Southwest region of Colorado and other locales; Finger never felt that duplicating them in paint at face value would do them justice. Instead, she found a contemporary twist of combining two disparate, yet complementary subjects: short-lived, delicate florals alongside the timeless permanence of our earth’s formations and landscapes.” (From the artist’s files.)

Also in the work of Kathryn Tatum, which notably, pointedly combines the masculine (yang) in the strong rock faces of the lofty mountains she loves with the feminine quality (yin) of the soft snow she loves (or lives) to ski.

Laura Chisholm’s bling is also featured at Slate Gray in March.

Nicole Finger:

Mountain Peonies

Whether she is painting portraits, horses, pastries, and now mountains and flowers, the style Nicole developed over the years is distinctive: the artist favors a minimalist, modern palette to “sculpt” larger-than-life images in paint, striving for realism without sacrificing the rich, textural quality of the paint as it aligns with the sensuous attributes of the subject under her well-schooled brush, this time “floralscapes.”

“Blossoming youth, life transition, ancient mountains, the fragrant breath of cut flowers all convey the ephemeral pull of time and a grasping at the fleeting nature and fragility of life,” Nicole explains.

Growing up in Bethesda, Maryland, Nicole 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.

Today Nicole paints from her studio in Telluride, Colorado, where she has lived and raised her family surrounded by the spectacular beauty of the San Juan Mountains. Her work regularly shows both nationally and internationally in juried and solo exhibitions and can be seen in many private and corporate collections, as well as in national publications

Also on the moon – yes really – through the Lunar Codex Project, a curated collection of art which, as of Valentine’s Day 2024, lands on the lunar surface as a lasting record of human creativity, yes, even in these times of war, pandemic, and socio-political crisis.

“The reason I became part of this project is twofold- my work was in an show titled “Shelter,” curated by Dr.Samuel Peralta, along with an artist’s online platform I am part of called ‘PoetsArtists.’ Two other images were in physical museum shows (Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, Wausau , WI) and publications that were included in this project as it expanded.

“It is really exciting to be a part of the Lunar Codex for many reasons. This is the first placement of contemporary arts on the moon since the launch 50 years ago, when the work of Warhol and Rauschenberg was featured. It is also the first project to launch women artist’s work to the moon to live in perpetuity in a time capsule of sorts,” Nicole adds.

Sam, Peonies


The Earth Laughs


Wilson Roses



For more check out the following email interview:

TIO: You have painted people, horses and pastries. And for this show at Slate Gray you are celebrating the end of winter and Telluride’s mountain majesties – but with a twist. Please explain…

NF: When we moved out of town, we had amazing views, but I never thought I was going to do landscape painting. How can you compete? How could anyone put that kind of beauty in the confines of a three-foot box? I spent years just trying to think of how to express the feeling the mountains give you and do it in an inventive way. In the the end, I came up with this concept of mixing the florals into the scene. I liked the softness and delicacy and fragility of the flowers against the timelessness of majestic mountains. I like high contrast, literally and figuratively.

TIO: Describe your process.

NF: I start with my idea and then troll the internet or my own photographs. I’ve also used photographs from our ever-talented local landscape photographer, Ryan Bonneau, as starting points. I then spend a lot of time matching up floral imagery with landscapes and work them up slightly on Photoshop. Then I transfer the images onto my canvas in a line drawing. That is followed by an “imprimatura”/sepia wash underpainting. After that, the painting unfolds with layers of pigment, both with a wet-on-wet application, as well as various glazes.

TIO: Talk about your muses from mom to mountains, including all stops in between. (And please include the artists, dead and alive) whose work you draw inspiration from.

NF: Countless artists, both dead and alive, have inspired me. And I take different things from each of them. Some examples over time of dead artists who inspire me range from Diego Rivera to John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Thomas Hart Benton and Wayne Thiebaud…Living artists include Alyssa Monks (with whom I took a workshop at NYAA), Bo Bartlett, Will Cotton, Kehinde Wiley. Actually the list of current figurative realist artists whom I gush over is endless!

TIO: When and why did you land in Telluride and how has Telluride influenced your life and work?

NF: I fell in love with Telluride at the age of 15 when I visited on a family trip from Maryland. Thirty-one years ago, my husband and I made this place our permanent home. Since then our lives have revolved around skiing. My son did mogul competitions. My husband and daughter are also beautiful skiers. My family is steeped in the art… I love chasing them down ridiculous stuff I shouldn’t be doing.

Also my whole family are artists one way or another and we need to be immersed in a natural environment. There’s a limit to how much time we can tolerate in a city setting! I’m constantly creatively fed by the beauty of our surroundings here in the Telluride region.

Kathryn Tatum:

Lone Peak, Big Sky Montana

In contrast, Kathryn Vinson Tatum is a painter of action, capturing the the Rockies of Telluride and Taos, her two homes, in paintings that celebrate the emotional impact of being on top of the world above tree line. In short, “off-piste” describes Kathryn both as an artist and as a skier who regularly enjoys shooting the moon.

Kathryn’s journey from graphic designer to rock stars to fine art painter in the Rockies began in rural New Jersey:

“For the first 10 years of my life we lived without neighbors or kids in our community. If my best friend, my brother, and I weren’t up to something adventurous, I was busy drawing and painting in the screened in, year-round, porch my parents made into an art studio for me. My grandmother on my mother’s side was extremely creative and introduced me to a few basic drawing and painting techniques. We also created the most beautiful, intricate, Polish Easter Eggs designs; you know the ones with the fine line designs. There was a time my parents allowed me to draw on my bedroom walls – considering they couldn’t stop me.”

And no one could stop the artist from diving headfirst into skiing adventures:

“My parents jumped at the opportunity to involve us in the sport of skiing. My brother and I developed a love for skiing and joined The Great Gorge Ski Racing Program. Ultimately ski racing became the vehicle that enabled me to compete and travel to many US, Canadian, and European ski areas and mountain resorts.”

While still in high school, a mentor helped Kathryn enroll in New York City’s prestigious Art Students League where she learned “the formula to becoming a successful artist requires a concentrated dedication to learning the theories and techniques of drawing, painting and color, while also having the passion to visually explore the subject matter that interests you.”

After high school graduation, Kathryn attended the Art Institute of Boston where she studied graphic design and Illustration with the goal of becoming a commercial graphics designer in the music industry. Following a move from Boston to New York, Kathryn wound up working for A&M records designing all its promotional and advertising materials. As a freelance graphic designer, she also worked for WNYC public radio.

The move to Telluride came as a result of Kathryn’s work for Top Notch Resort and Spa, the team that designed the Spa at The Peaks in Mountain Village.
In 2006, Kathryn and her husband began spending six months a year at a ranch in Taos. In 2011, they moved to the town of Ranchos De Taos to be closer to the highly established Taos art scene.

“That was where my painting techniques developed into a synthesis of Chinese processes and philosophies and Western art techniques and materials. By combining rice paper, charcoal, Chinese ink and brush techniques with acrylic paints and wax, my mixed-media synthesis finally reached its fullest expression.”

Humbled by the extreme above-tree-lined landscapes surrounding the Telluride ski area, Kathryn never really knew how to capture its respectable beauty until relatively recently.

“By applying a mixed-media approach to painting and combining the strong rock faces of the lofty scenery with soft white snow, I discovered the yin and yang of my work. If you look at these geometric interpretations of my favorite terrain standing slightly to the side of the paintings, you might see a black-and-white piece of art. However, viewed straight on, you might see the rocks sparkling with golden light or a bronze twinkle, which reminds me of the times clouds cover the sun and the landscape appears monochromatic. But when the clouds move and the sun is uncovered you see the colors sparkle and feel the heat. That is what I hope my work arouses in the viewer: a unique experience depending upon the light and time of the day. There are other hidden treasures I encourage everyone to discover for themselves, the variegated beauty of the mountains I am privileged to call home. The place where my twin passions, painting and skiing, come together.”

For more, check out Kathryn’s interview:

The Grandfather Chute


Diptych, Right Panel The Banana Chute. Left Panel Heavens’ Elevens”Chute


The Why Chute


Kachina Peak Ridge Line

TIO: Drawing artistic information from mountains is not new for you. Please explain why and how your work and your other passion, namely skiing, come together in your art.

KT: I’ve always said I don’t know which I like best, skiing or creating art. With eyes wide open, mountain vistas are awe-inspiring; crystalline white snow juxtaposed on dark rock and shadows in high elevation light. I smile as I ski, a perfect synthesis of the physical and visual world – inside and out. I want to shout out in gratitude and recreate those experiences into art as tribute.

TIO: Please talk about the nexus of Western mountains and artistic influences from the East, namely China. When did your work shift in that direction?
The question is how to create art which will reflect spiritual and respectful awe of the mountains? What is the best approach to take? How do I, as an artist, step aside from my personal intention and allow the mountains to speak for themselves? My answer to those questions surely have to be found in the art created by those who have ancestral lineage high within the Asian Himalayan mountains. As the old saying goes; ‘Ask and it is given’

In 2012, a good friend and one-time resident of Telluride, George Vroom, attended an art show of mine, and immediately recognized my unity with the mountains. Instantly we started what became an on-going dialog on Asian art, philosophies, mountain life. Mostly we discussed the art lessons he received from various Asian artists. The following year a new series of my mountain paintings were on exhibit in Taos, New Mexico, and again another artist, KC Tebbitts recognized the Asian influences in my work and we too discussed the nature of Asian art and its processes. Shortly thereafter we opened a gallery together in Taos, allowing us a constant exploration of the Asian art techniques taught by Shen Chec, an accomplished artist from Seattle,Washington. During those four years of creating art together in the public environment of the gallery, other Taos artists dropped in and artistic conversations and creative ideas flourished within the art salon type of environment.

TIO: Please describe your process.

KT: Art evolves and the artist must find his or her own voice and approach to all the various techniques and materials available. A rhythm, a dance and an all-encompassing joy while creating. Mine; a synthesis of East meets West using ancient Asian and modern art materials, always keeping in-mind the basic principles of art while layering.

I begin with a large piece of hand-made rice paper upon which I draw a subtle charcoal sketch to define the image and shadows. Next, using natural hair Asian brushes, I splatter Asian ink to form bleeding organic patterns in the paper. A little color is added with water-based gouache. The paper is then mounted to canvas and dried in the sunlight. Leaving the East behind, I proceed using Western materials of acrylic gel mediums, interference acrylic paint-colored wax and finally an archival varnish to protect the art.

TIO: Please talk about your muses. What and who make you want to make art? (And include artists, dead or alive, whom you admire and channel in your painting.)

KT: I am blessed to have had supportive friends and colleagues throughout my artistic career. I honor those who have been a part of this magical creative journey, including my dear friend Jane who invited me to create in her studio space before I had my own Taos studio. I dedicate my upcoming show on March 7 at Slate Gray Gallery to her memory.

Fine art jeweler Lauren Chisholm:

Lauren Chisholm is an internationally collected fine art jewelry designer and has been featured on the pages of Vogue, Elle and Metal magazines, as well multiple New York Fashion Week runways.

Lauren is a multi-faceted artist who reimagines classic, mid-century modern-inspired elements, shapes and symbols in her fresh, chic collection of wearable art.

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