Pagosa Arts Council Show a Step Up, Durango Herald, June 24, 2008

“The Flock” by Lorraine Trenholm won first prize at the PSAC 5th Annual Juried Show


Pagosa Springs Arts Council’s fifth annual Juried Art Exhibition, Tuesday-Sunday, noon-4 p.m., through July 8, 315 Hermosa Street (in Town Park), Pagosa Springs, 264-5020.

The Pagosa Springs Arts Council opened its fifth annual Juried Show on Thursday and took a giant leap forward in presenting itself as a viable arts organization in the region.

Juror and Assistant Professor at Fort Lewis College Chad Colby selected 21 works by 16 artists for the show from submissions of 49 works by 27 artists. Colby approached his juror duties with the same criteria he uses in the classroom critique. First, he evaluates creativity and craft. If the subject matter is commonplace, he asks if the artist is attempting to represent it in a way that is innovative. Is the artist adept at handling the material? And, is there poetry in the content?

Colby writes in his statement, which is elegantly posted in the gallery, “I did my best to select a show that has both high standards and creative diversity.”

Artists from Pagosa Springs, Durango, Bayfield and Ignacio, and as far away as Aurora, Fort Collins and Santa Fe, are included in the exhibition. And while, as in any juried show, there are hits and misses, overall the show does exactly what Colby set out to do.

The quality of the workmanship is good; there is some level of innovation, not on par with what is seen in cutting-edge contemporary art centers in New York, California or even Santa Fe, but for a small community arts center, run by volunteers and artists in Southwest Colorado, it’s a step up.

In fact, the presentation is professional and on par with local commercial centers such as Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts. It’s clear that the staff, the board and the volunteers involved in putting this show together value art and artists.

The space is small and less than ideal, but the installation is clean and consistent, and only one wall seems a bit cramped. They could have shown one less painting. In fact, there are probably two or three works that don’t seem at the level of the other work in the show. But that typically happens as the juror is judging work based on digital images and when the work arrives, things are not as they seemed.

The real test of a show like this is what the juror selected – once all the work arrived and he was able to see it in person – to win the prizes. Colby judged the work blind, and arts council president Linda Echterhoff said he was familiar only with the work of one artist, former Fort Lewis College student Tirzah Camacho.

Echterhoff said Colby chose for first place “The Flock” by Durango artist Lorraine Trenholm for its whimsy, its strong cultural context and because it is a well-rendered pastel painting. Second place went to Pagosa Springs sculptor Rachel Leigh Alber for her steel and aluminum work called “Connection and Flow.” Third place went to another Pagosa Springs artist Pierre Mion for his masterful watercolor, “The Sentinel.”

“Chaise,” by Janice Lawrence of Fort Collins.

Other work of note that met his criteria and could have been prize-winning included: “Chaise,” a pastel by Janice Lawrence from Fort Collins. The painting is elegantly rendered, capturing light on a rattan chair. For me, this work was more than just the depiction of a chair in the late afternoon light; it captured a mood and a feeling, and provided a sense of story and poetry.

And as a fan of abstract work for its visceral quality, I liked Kay Harper Roberts’ “Triple X” clay mono print for its use of color and texture and Anthony Steventon’s palette knife oil painting “Flower Storm.”

artsjournalist@mac.comLeanne Goebel is a member of the International Association of Art Critics and a recipient of the 2008 Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Art Writer’s Grant.

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