‘Hot Pursuits’ at Adams State worth the drive to Alamosa, Durango Herald, Sept. 7, 2007

Photos clockwise from top: Works on paper by Kate Petley; “Sand Lots” by Monica Goldsmith; The Cloyde Snook Gallery at Adams State College with a print by Ron Fundingsland on the wall and a floor installation by Mary Ellen Long; “Genome” by Shan Wells and “Greenbelt” a diptych by Monica Goldsmith.

Gerry Riggs, the former curator for the Gallery of Contemporary Art at CU Colorado Springs, has been in hot pursuit of regional artists since he moved to the Four Corners two years ago. So when he was asked to curate an exhibit at the Clyde Snook Gallery at Adams State College in Alamosa, it was a fairly easy task.

“Hot Pursuits: 8 Southwest Colorado Artists” features the work of Shan Wells, Mary Ellen Long and Monica Goldsmith, all of Durango; Kate Petley, Shaun Martin, D. Michael Coffee and Gerry Riggs, all of Pagosa Springs; and Ron Fundingsland of Bayfield.

Petley’s recent resin, film and acrylic panels literally reflect her pursuit of light, atmosphere and reflection. Her meditative, abstract work is like liquid, merged with startling detail. Three large panels are mounted on one wall: “Striped Aura,” “Inner Topography” and “The Pearl Shirt.” The titles bring the viewer from abstract to concrete. Ah, yes, I see a pearl shirt in this panel.

Her resin process is complicated and involves photographing reflections and printing them on large sheets of film. The film is placed on acrylic and attached with liquid resin, an unforgiving medium. The artist can then draw in the resin. The lumps and bubbles are part of the process. The result is hypnotic, like snapshots of mutable flat screens. Petley is capturing brief moments that we take in unconsciously from the corner of our eye.

Another wall features nine of her mixed-media works on paper, drawings that are intricately detailed and amorphous. Some are colorful, others muted and many include writing in English and Sanskrit. With titles like: “Breathing Through the Hole in My Head Makes Me Happy,” “Seven Powers Speaking All at Once” and “Amputated Icicles,” Petley gives the viewer clues to her ideas.

Titles also provide a clue to Goldsmith’s hard-edged, color field painting. The acrylic paintings are about the environment and physical topography. Think land-use planning, open space and the environmental impact of unchecked development.

In “Greenbelt,” a diptych of vivid green and purple gray, the geometric abstraction is like looking down on the plans for a subdivision, complete with divided lots, roads and the greenbelts that developers incorporate. The subtle lines and beads remind one of an abacus, raising the question of who is keeping track of the houses, the greenbelts, the cars on the road.

“Circa,” and “Offset” are more abstract renditions in shades of turquoise blue. The colors of both paintings suggest water and our demand for it in the West. The lines bring to mind not only the abacus, but the buoyed ropes that string across swimming pools, and the markings along river banks that tell us how low the water levels have sunk.

Elements of nature are the preferred material for Wells. “Artifact,” is a limb from a pine tree, cut into sections and mounted on steep poles. The title suggests that he is also exploring the impact humans have on the environment. “Genome” is a large string of Mancos and Lewis shale fragments coiled into a snaking form. It intimates that we are all connected, made up of the same elements as the rocks.

Wells makes a humorous political statement with “Right Wing Sense Beating Tool,” a Styrofoam cylinder on a wood and steel handle, a giant club.

Riggs has curated a provocative show that is worth the drive to Alamosa.

Review: Hot Pursuits: 8 Southwest Colorado Artists, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, through Sept. 14, Clyde Snook Gallery, Adams State College, 208 Edgemont Blvd., Alamosa, (719) 587-7823.

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

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Hot Pursuits: 8 Southwest Colorado Artists, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, through Sept. 14, Clyde Snook Gallery, Adams State College, 208 Edgemont Blvd., Alamosa, (719) 587-7823.

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