Women Forge Beauty at Durango Arts Center, Durango Herald, Oct. 12, 2007

Ekaterina Harrison’s “Still Dreaming of Tomorrow” sits before Kathleen Holmes’ “Autumn Arbor” with Pip Howard’s “What Time Is It?” in the background. Pip Howard’s “Cityscape.”

“There is no more beautiful color than a bar of steel at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit glowing in the sun,” sculptor Kathleen Holmes writes in an artist statement. She is one of four artists – Kathleen Holmes, Aztec.; Ekaterina Harrison, La Sal, Utah; Pip Howard, Aztec; and Rachael Anderson, Farmington, who are showing their work at the Durango Art Center. The show is called “Women Do Iron.”

Their work shows that metal can be turned into objects of fragile and delicate beauty.

Holmes’ elegant, scrolled, gate samples hang on a wall above one of her simple, highly polished end tables creating the appearance of a throne.

Holmes has been working with metal for more than 30 years, and she and her husband have their own business: Rustwater Forge. The show-stopping “Autumn Arbor” a copper garden arbor filled with metal vines and calla lilies shows attention to detail. It replicates nature in metal that endures the changing seasons. It is an arbor always in bloom.

Ekaterina Harrison’s “Still Dreaming of Tomorrow,” is a seated female figure with flowing hair. The body is rough with visible joints, while the hands and feet and face are smooth and real. It’s a gorgeous study of the human form, capturing the mood of a moment.

Another piece by this artist also captures a moment: the split second before a rattlesnake eats a mouse. Oddly, the snake is hungry although his midsection is already bulging with mouse. His mouth is wide open, his fangs bared, his split tongue reaching.

Harrison explores in metal classical imagery that is often only seen in traditional lost wax sculpture. But here, she wields a torch and hammer instead of just molding in plastiline.

The two other artists, Anderson and Howard, admit to being new to the medium, and that is evident in some of their work.

However, Anderson’s “Hearts Journey” and Howard’s “City Scape” would be dramatic as large works of public art.

A well-executed and thought-out work by Howard is “What Time Is It?” a nonfunctional clock in four fan-shaped pieces of metal with pseudo roman numerals cut out along the edges. The numbers are one through 12, but not in standard clock position, and the hands move, so you can decide what time you want it to be. Everything is off kilter.

Howard also creates hanging wall labyrinths that are abstract yet evoke the traditional lizard and thunderbird of the Southwest.

Most of her metalwork is created using recycled materials and scrap metal from the oilfields.

Metal is a strong medium. It is heavy, durable and strong. It is touchable art. If you knock it over, it probably won’t break, and you can’t poke a hole through it like canvas.

These women prove that a heavy, static medium can be infused with life and motion.

artsjournalist@centurytel.net Leanne Goebel is a freelance writer specializing in the visual arts. She was recently invited to become a member of the International Art Critics Association.

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"Women Do Iron," through Nov. 7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Durango Arts Center, 802 East Second Ave., 259-2606.

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