Pagosa Springs, Colorado—“Select Works” opens July 1 @ Shy Rabbit with artists: Susan Andersen (Marsan), mixed media; D. Michael Coffee, ceramics and monoprints; Sarah Comerford, painting; Ron Fundingsland, intaglio printmaking; Deborah Gorton, mixed media; Shaun Martin, painting; Al Olson, photography; Lisa Pedolsky, ceramics; and Kate Petley, resin on acrylic panels. A reception for the artists will be held from 5-8 p.m. Regular gallery hours beginning July 1 are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. with extended hours on the second Thursday of the month from 1-6:30 p.m.
MarSan’s works are about emergence. The emergence of simple earthly objects to an elevated state of recognition, or the combining of earthy objects formed together to shed light on the process of emergence. “It is like the Dragon Fly incubating in cocooned darkness till it’s emergence to light. The transformation is not so much about a particular change that transpires but more about the shedding of light on particular objects or transformations,” Anderson says.
Some of the pieces selected for this show are unchanged, only slightly embellished or have been put together with another piece, creating complimentary parallels or complimentary opposites.
“I find beauty in simplicity, which when isolated, has a sophistication that seems beyond human endeavor. On the other hand I find ingenuity in artistic construction and an insight into the individual psyche especially when the construction is put to paper, sculpture, music, or words,” Anderson says.
D. Michael Coffee has worked extensively in all types of media, including painting, wood, metal, architecture, printmaking and ceramics. “Art is my passion and the true backbone of my existence,” he says. “I cannot lay claim to any particular style or genre, as I am primarily interested in nonlinear paths of development in the objects I make.”
For Coffee, each step of the art making process is part of a personal inner journey. The common thread that stitches his work together is an overriding desire to be surprised by the outcome, as though he wasn’t present during the process.
“The art that I create is a product of a concerted effort to exploit my powers of intuition for the sheer joy of attempting to reach a ‘mindless mind’ state of awareness,” Coffee says. “For me, the challenge is to let go of predetermined understanding and foresight, and to work on developing my instincts. I strive to create outside of my conscious self, empowered by the strength of my intuition. I tend to select materials that are simple, so as not to become material bound. When I am successful, the pieces that I create truly represent the sum total of my life experiences and visual histories.”
As a figurative painter, Sarah Comerford looks to the body as a metaphor that can reveal intangible things about the human experience of embodiment. “I am inspired by events that have shaped culture and by lives that have been misshaped by culture,” Comerford writes in her artist statement.
Comerford’s work uses a language of dichotomy in an attempt to point out the inherent contradictions in life such as the appreciation of beauty despite cruelty, or the realization of joy despite degeneration of the spirit and mind. She often pulls in historical reference to other artists who have explored similar concepts.
Ron Fundingsland is a member of the Society of American Graphic Artists and the International Print Triennial Society. His traditional intaglio and aquatint prints were recently exhibited in New York; Cairo, Egypt; and Lincoln, Nebraska. It is his voice that we recognize more readily in Southwest Colorado, as Fundingsland is a radio announcer at KSUT.
Fundingsland says in his artist statement that he is affected by a number of social, political and personal issues that are frequently seen in his work. “More often than not, I think of it as commentary,” he writes.
Yet his most recent work is a direct reaction to the force of social and political issues. It is a response to the overwhelming intensity of our world situation and a way to create something beautiful in an ugly time.
Deborah Gorton expresses a similar idea of history in her work. “Whether this series of work portrays the image of ancient symbols and messages that were just discovered or a futuristic one that could be revealed some time in the future, after our society has disappeared and been buried by time, is something I leave for the viewer to decide,” Gorton says.
Gorton’s work is about creating a sense of layers through imagery, of revealing images from long ago that have been covered up and forgotten. “I feel like my own personal process in life is one of peeling back my layers, reaching deeper and deeper within myself to discover the core of my being,” Gorton says.
Gorton’s works with a combination of materials in order to achieve this impression of layers: Beginning with a stretched canvas she uses acrylics, mediums, papers, parts of old books or text, found and manufactured objects, beads and artifacts.
Shaun Martin also works intuitively. “My recent work has been all about keeping myself open. I feel a real collaboration with my art,” Martin says. “I allow pieces to form and show me certain directions to explore. This keeps me present as I’m creating. I love the anticipation of seeing the surface textures come alive with depth and color.”
Martin uses symbols to represent concepts, people, places and movement. Sometimes the titles of the work lead to an understanding of the symbols. Other times, the titles are just for personal expression.
“To me, the pieces feel like a memory of a cultural or personal ceremony,” Martin says.
Al Olson enjoys making in-camera images to create a vision that oftentimes contrasts with our normal experience by creating abstract elements or using unusual lighting effects, camera angles, film media, and subject matter that permit the viewer to use their own imagination to interpret the composition.
Olson uses extended exposures under low light conditions, infrared media (both B&W and color), slow shutter effects, and multiple exposures on a single frame.
“My purpose is to create critical photographs that meet standards for fine art photography,” Olson writes in his artist statement. The integrity of the image is important to Olson. He achieves all of his effects using the camera and standard darkroom procedures.
Lisa Pedolsky acquires deep satisfaction from working with clay by addressing both function and form. All of her ceramics incorporate a functional aspect, but the work goes deeper than strict utility—serving as a vehicle for self-expression. Pedolsky draws upon an ecclectic mix of influences, ranging from childhood toys to architecture to textiles. They often appear in subtle and surprising ways, contributing to the character of a piece.
The hand built forms Pedolsky creates are intended to invite the viewer in through tactile as well as visual interaction. Through this close perspective an intimacy with the work is created.
Kate Petley is an artist who uses unusual materials to grant viewers a dazzling glimpse of light itself. Petley’s technical wizardry evokes a world of associations, and recent panels begin with an exotic and unforgiving process.
Beginning with a handmade transparent screen, detailed reflections are projected onto the wall that Petley photographs and prints on fragile film. Gooey resins laminate these films to acrylic panels in a painstaking process. Corrections are impossible, and the unpredictable resin process introduces small bubbles and drops that are amazingly projected onto the wall. The tiniest drop appears to be huge, hypnotizing the eyes and disorienting the senses. Like an extreme collage project, done with impossibly sticky resins, drawings are also layered into the panels. Resembling an odd, juicy flat-screen, the panels again cast a reflection on the wall behind them, doubling the image with dizzying effects. They are a reflection of a reflection and form yet another new reflection. This strangely sensual cycle repeats itself with endless variables.
Acclaimed for her ability to surprise, Petley’s work contains special effects that address sensory perception. Inspiring viewers to notice the subtle optical effects created by light, Petley slows the very act of seeing. An optimistic abstraction runs through her work, but it is not naïve or simple. By reinforcing the unbelievable richness of experience, found in the minute details of everything surrounding us, Petley expresses vital hopefulness.
Shy Rabbit—a Contemporary Art Space and Gallery—is gaining widespread recognition for its cutting edge exhibitions and professional workshops. Shy Rabbit appeals to discerning art-lovers, and area visitors alike, with its contemporary appearance and welcoming atmosphere.
“Select Works” will be on display through August 12. Shy Rabbit is located at 333 Bastille Drive, Units B-1, B-4, west of downtown, and just south of the Pagosa Lakes area. Take Hwy 160 to North Pagosa Blvd., stay on North Pagosa to Bastille Drive (at UBC) turn left and stay on Bastille past Hopi. Shy Rabbit is located directly next to Pine Valley Rental. For more information: log onto http://shyrabbit.blogspot.com or call (970) 731-2766.