Gallery Walk offers feast for senses, Durango Herald, Sept. 25, 2007

Regional artists’ works plus free food, drink highlight annual tour

Courtesy of Ellis West Gallery Local painter Krista Harris’ new pieces were showing at the Ellis West Gallery during Friday’s Gallery Walk. These paintings,including “Asheville,” shown here, represent for Harris amove into modernism.

It’s September. The air is crisp, and on the third Friday of the month local galleries stay open late. The streets are filled with people checking out the art, eating free hors d’oeuvres and sipping wine.

The Gallery Walk symbolizes a lot that is great about Durango: local businesses coming together to promote creative industry, giving back to the community, bringing in artists from around the region and springing for free food and drink.

This year was no different.

Jonathan Frank, a Denver watercolor artist, and Sasha Scully, a painter from Los Alamos, met visitors at the Rain Dance Gallery. Frank and Rain Dance formed their relationship a few years ago during the Durango Arts Festival. His beautifully executed watercolor and ink paintings of the West fit nicely with the work at this gallery. And there’s a playful edge to his work: the buffalo rolling around on its back, the bison calf trotting away from the herd. Scully paints aspens in a thick, impressionistic style with impasto leaves that literally festoon off the canvas.

At LimeBerry, Becky Finn played bluegrass on her fiddle while guests checked out the fun collection of art created by friends of Melissa and Joe Carroll. New large canvases by Joe Carroll were the biggest surprise. Joe took to painting to explore spatial relationships for his large found and recycled object sculptures.

His colorful works are layered field over ground over field. His experience with patina in metal pours over onto the canvas. His colors are vivid, perhaps inspired by the work of Navajo artist Leland Holiday, whose inexpensive canvases are stacked against the walls of the gallery. Large and unstretched Holiday canvases hang from the ceiling at the gallery and are some of the strongest work this young artist has produced.

“Otters” and “Little Howlers” are two amazing new pieces by brilliant wood sculptor J. Chester Armstrong. Armstrong, whose Oregon studio burned to the ground, recently sent these new works from his rebuilt studio. What a surprise to see a small 1968 pot created by famed San Ildefonso potter Maria Martinez – a new edition to the offerings at the gallery . And Karyn Gabaldon focused on Silverton artist Kathleen Lashley and her “Haiku Collages.”

At Toh-Atin, visitors mingled with Santa Fe Indian Market prizewinner Dennis Ross. Ross is Hopi and creates gorgeous corn maiden kachinas. Also mingling with visitors was Robert Rivera, a gourd artist and Lance Mumma a landscape painter from New Mexico.

Next door at the Earthen Vessel, Nick Blasedale showed off his high-fired stoneware in vivid red glaze and his subdued incised work.

Sorrel Sky, where I work part time, featured jewelry artist Kai Gallagher, whose Kaizen line means “ongoing process involving everyone.”

At Ellis West, local painter Krista Harris and Vermont glass artist Randi Solin were the featured artists. Harris presented new canvases that are a combination of Joan Miro and Hans Hoffman. Solin’s gorgeous glass is weighted and organic in its shape, but vivid and painterly in its color, like molten silk. And I love looking through the cases here, checking out the contemporary jewelry by artists from around the country. The collection is the finest within 100 miles.

Up on East Second Avenue, the Durango Arts Center continued “Portraits and Masks,” a sparse show of mixed quality. The upstairs library gallery features the work of New Mexico book artists and life partners Nancy Culemone and Paul Maurer of Serafina, N.M. Culmone’s work is more refined and detailed. Maurer’s style is loose and expressive, hence the title of the show “Opposites Attract.”

At Open Shutter, “Spirit of the West” opened, an annual event that coordinates with the Durango Cowboy Gathering. Not to be missed is Jenny Gummersall’s “Chewy,” a photograph that has been featured in Cowboys & Indians and Colorado Homes & Lifestyles .

The leaves are changing. The days are shorter. Local businesses will begin paring back their hours, but we can still create our own gallery walk at any time.

Walk around, check out the art, talk to the gallery owners. You might be surprised at what you find. Leanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the visual arts.

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