Spurring Dialogues, Durango Herald, Oct. 10, 2008

Pagosa Springs art show urges talk of intangibles

“Bird Woman” by Carrianne Hendrickson is a ceramic sculpture featured in “Dialogues.”

Ceramic artists stand out in the new show at the Shy Rabbit Gallery in Pagosa Springs. Jeff Pender, from Charlotte, N.C., is one of the artists sparking conversation in an exhibit titled “Dialogues.”

His elegant stoneware pieces are like mystical talismans from some ancient culture.

“I seek the bridge between what was and what will be, between stories told and one yet to be written, between past and future,” Pender wrote in his artist statement.

“Ancestors Portal” is a bone-white spirit figure suspended in a horseshoe-shaped orb.

“Floating Spirit” is a terra cotta spirit figure with burnished gold elements in a white orb.

Pender begins with drawing. He then combines the drawings into three-dimensional sculptures.

Finishes include terra sigillata (or earth seal), a slip (liquid clay) containing fine particles that can be rubbed to a luster after firing.

Other unfired surface treatments give Pender’s work a rust-like or bonelike surface. The forms are honed, scrubbed and burnished before firing, then finished with wood stain and paste wax.

There is a magical quality to Pender’s work: Some fabricated, ritualistic, ancient god figure in a contemporary and elegant aesthetic.

Pender’s sculptures appear with Carrianne Hendrickson’s hand-built, figurative, ceramic sculptures.

Hendrickson’s forms appear innocent, but have a dark side. The Buffalo, N.Y.-based artist created three “Pillowhead” works for this exhibit.

Hendriskson’s “The Offering” and “Bird Woman” are ritualistic and ancient, as well. “The Offering” features an antlered female figure holding a basket of colored fruit and vegetables. At her feet, the spilled fruit and vegetables are all white.

“Bird Woman” is a female figure with four breasts, wearing a crown of red feathers and a long beak like a Venetian mask.

Hendrickson and Pender are exhibited with paintings by Christopher St. John from Taos, N.M., and Marcie Paper from Brooklyn, N.Y.

“Petting Zoo” and “Sick Neighbor,” both oils by St. John, complement the dark underbelly of Hendrickson’s sculptures.

Marcie Paper showed at the Shy Rabbit in 2006 under her former name Marcie Lenke. There is a graphic quality to her painting and collage pieces, one that is simple and organic, almost like fabric.

The color pallets of Paper and St. John are complementary and the shapes and forms are conversant with the ovals, circles and figures on the ceramic sculptures of Pender and Hendrickson.

“Sick Neighbor,” an oil on panel by Christopher St. John, is on display at Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts.

Shy Rabbit owners Denise and Michael Coffee are constantly revising their contemporary art center.

Workshops in ceramics and printmaking offered by Michael Coffee are the bread and butter of this social enterprise.

Two print-making students, Debra Blair of Farmington and Marti Bledsoe of Pagosa Springs and Marble Falls, Texas, are showing their collaboration in the back gallery.

Leanne Goebel is a writer who specializes in the arts.

If you go

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“Dialogues,” 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, or by appointment through Nov. 15, Shy Rabbit Contemporary Arts, 333 Bastille Drive, Pagosa Springs, 731-2766.

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