Envision an art exhibit in which the Durango Area Tourism Office and the Chamber of Commerce both select work to use in promoting Durango. Imagine artwork that “celebrates the unique quality and diversity of the life, land and heritage of the Four Corners region.”
Now add to the mix former gallery owner and local jewelry artist Carol Martin, chairperson for the Public Arts Commission, who juried the work. Let simmer that the call for entries to this show didn’t go out until early December.
The Four Corners Commission Juried Art Show at Durango Arts Center is partly what might be envisioned: images of the landscape and wildlife.
I expected this show to be predictable and a bit cliché. Some of it is.
But unlike so many recent juried shows, this one doesn’t seem overly crowded–and that is a good thing. And when I looked past the predictable plein air paintings and Mesa Verde photographs, I was pleasantly rewarded with some different views of the Four Corners.
A mixed collage by Judy Hayes, “The First Winter” ($1,500) layers color and texture in a dimensional painting. A steel, wood and copper sculpture by Bryan Saren, “Readymade #4” ($1,100) conveys simple elegance. Acrylic paintings by Tirzah Camacho, “Longing for Grace” ($1,900) and “Old House, New House” ($700) give viewers a glimpse into the contemporary vision of one American Indian artist living in the region. A vibrant Pyrex glass figurative sculpture by Grace Kruse, “Durango Mama” ($300) is a sashay of color. A digital photo by Linda Pampinella “Susie, Navajo Rug Weaver” ($175) captures multiple shades of vermilion and the reality of one artist’s life.
None of these won awards, but they aren’t banal either.
Neither is “Yakin’ III (Animas)” ($900), winner of the Best of Show Award and the Durango Chamber of Commerce “Reflections of Durango” Award, a pastel drawing of a kayaker by Lorraine Trenholm.
Nor is “Meandering” ($1,400) a diptych by Mary Ellen Morrow, which won the Juror’s Choice Award. This is probably the most unique work in the show. Upon first glance, the two oil paintings don’t seem to go together. Look again and it becomes obvious—the second painting is like zooming in and blowing up the river valley in the first small painting.
More commonplace, yet beautifully executed is “Blacksmith’s Song” (NFS) a forged and fabricated steel sculpture of a violin resting against an anvil by Kathleen Holmes, which won the Merit Award.
Honorable Mention Awards went to: “Relics and Remains” (NFS) a hand-coated silver emulsion shadow gram by Linda MacCannell (clever); “False Hellebore” ($150) a B&W; photograph by Chet Anderson (gorgeous); “Dragonfly III” ($595) a found object sculpture by Susan Andersen (enthralling); “Hidden Arch” ($650) a watercolor by Barbara Tobin Klema (not your traditional watercolor); “Fall, Hermosa Cliffs” ($650) a pastel by Betty Jo Kilpatrick (pretty); “Winter Sage” ($450) an oil by Lori Walters (peaceful) ; “Spirit Rocker” ($4,800) a handcrafted wooden rocking chair by Doug Hunderman (impeccable).
The show may not be sui generis, but it is beyond banal.
If you go:
Four Corners Commission Juried Art Exhibit
Through January 30
Durango Arts Center
802 East 2nd Ave
Tue-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
firstname.lastname@example.org Leanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the visual arts.