Women’s Work, Durango Herald, Feb. 13, 2007

Durango Arts Center exhibit reflects female lives

“Sarina, the Boreal Toad (Bufo Boreas Boreas)” by Amy Vaclav-Felker. Papier Mache and celluclay mixed media sculpture.

“Woman in the Windowsill” by Bethany Bachman. Soft pastel on paper.

“Camisa de Frida (Frida’s shirt)” by Perla Kopeloff. Mixed media collage.

February 13, 2007
By Leanne Goebel|Special to the Herald

Vibrant. Playful. Quirky. Words that describe the weirdly titled “Women at Work” exhibit at the Durango Arts Center, featuring the work of: Bethany Bachmann, Amy Vaclav-Felker and Perla Kopeloff.

I hesitate to call this work feminine, but the subject matter reflects the lives of women and will appeal to women.

Perla Kopeloff is an artist born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Currently working in Alamosa, Kopeloff’s collage and mixed-media work is about textiles and clothing. Her work is ethnic with a hint of Inca. I was particularly interested in her large, cone-shaped vessels: “Cono Norteamericano” ($800), “Nido #1” ($350), “Nido #2 ($350) and a woven paper rug titled “Rug for the New Millenium,” ($1,000).

Some of Kopeloff’s work includes handwriting, and she writes in her artist statement that these written words “represent letters to myself in which I’m reminded to keep in touch with far away friends and family.”

Two collages hang together, one titled “Camisa de Frida (Frida’s shirt)” ($850) and the other “Me Gusta Escriber (I like to Write)” ($850). These are layers of warm-colored handmade papers, fabrics and found objects hanging from red willow, the second with metallic script.

Kopeloff’s work brings together fragments of cultures and attempts to integrate them into a garment. She writes that this work is about “traditional and untraditional vestments that cover our naked self.”

Bachmann’s female figures often are naked. She uses soft pastel to create images that are rich and vibrant in oranges, purples, blues, greens and yellows. The work on display is a collection of abstracted female figures in moments of contemplation and solitude. Bachmann explores how women relate to themselves, others and their environment.

The elongated, slouching form of “Woman in Windowsill” ($875) captured my attention. Her curved position, closed eyes, looking away from the window captures a protective, melancholy mood. “Garden” ($625) is in vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow and captures a woman amid flowers, long arms clasped, knees bent and open, head tilted as if prayerful, thankful, basking in the warmth of the sun.

Bachmann’s figures are reflective, yet no matter the emotion conveyed, the work is positive and warm, a colorful expression of time alone in quiet contemplation, something our society doesn’t seem to value.

Vaclav-Felker’s papier-mâché and celluclay sculptures of animals make up the trio.

“Sarina the Boreal Toad (Bufo boreas boreas)” ($425) is a red frog with turquoise spots carrying a scepter and wearing a jeweled crown, necklace and bracelet, sitting atop a velvet pillow. “Lurlene the Lynx” ($625) is an orange lynx wearing a black radio collar, encrusted with crystals. “Myra the Striped Skunk (Mephitis Mephitis)” ($375) is an orange skunk with rows of green and orange silk flowers defining her stripes.

Felker’s work is fun, playful and doesn’t take itself seriously, yet the artist, who is a biologist by training, captures how an animal relates to its habitat, its personality per se. Most of the animals in this exhibit are native to Colorado, and Felker expresses how they interact with humans and how humans affect them.

A fourth artist, jeweler Peggy Maloney, was supposed to be part of this exhibit. According to Durango Arts Center Exhibits Director Susan Andersen, Maloney chose to withdraw from the show. Perhaps it was meant to be, because the exhibit is complete without an additional artist.

Art compels us to see things in a new way, or a way we may not have considered. Each of these women suggests through her art that we look at culture, clothing, solitude and wildlife in a new way.

artsjournalist@centurytel.netLeanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the visual arts.

“Women at Work," through Feb. 26, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tues-Sat, Durango Arts Center, 802 East Second Ave., 259-2606, durangoarts.org.

“); Contents copyright, the Durango Herald. All rights reserved.

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