Husband, wife have joint art show in Steamboat |

Husband, wife have joint art show in Steamboat

Nicole Inglis

Steamboat Springs artist Monroe Hodder's work will be shown at K. Saari Gallery through April 15.
John F. Russell

— Last week, Monroe and Fred Hodder sat in their Steamboat Springs home, spellbound as they watched snowflakes glisten through the winter air with not a cloud in sight.

It was a visual experience the two could share in one moment, but when it comes to their artwork, experiences like that manifest in dichotomy.

"I think it's fairly personal," Fred said. "As an artist, you have to do what you feel expresses yourself."

"You have to take responsibility for your own work."

For Fred, a digital photographer, his landscape photography captures the timeless expanse of the Yampa Valley. Serene and calm, his work reflects his Wyoming heritage and "is a deeper reflection of his sensibility," Monroe said.

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In contrast, Monroe's work cannot even be measured on the same spectrum as her husband's: her bold, abstract and colorful oil-on-canvas works tend to stick to her signature structure of horizontal stripes, but it express a pop-art kind of immediacy with explosions of color, layering and cultural references.

"There's a feeling of landscape in my work," Monroe said. "There's a sense of place there. But it's the calmness in Fred's work that is in great contrast to the hyper energy in mine."

"I'm almost envious of the tranquility in his work."

The pair have a show at K. Saari Gallery through April 15, the contemporary gallery's last exhibition before it closes for mud season.

The show includes installation work that Monroe painted directly on the wall of the gallery, with an urban graffiti flair.

Fred's photographs, dubbed "February Light," are mounted with glossy museum glass and in matte form, painted with encaustic brush strokes. The photos, taken mostly this winter, are on display in the back room, which elevates the rustic and raw aspect of his work with its bare wooden floors.

Adventure in art

The Hodders celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this year, and the adventurous couple isn't remotely close to slowing down. They spend half their year in Steamboat Springs and half in London, sprinkled with river rafting trips and beach vacations.

Recently, Monroe did a six-week residency in Rome, where she hit the ground running with her work, taking a wide range of influences — including an experimental musician — into consideration.

"The stripes are just the underlying structure of it," Fred said about his wife's work. "It's about the color and the turbulence of it. There's a lot of energy and a lot of exuberance."

Monroe has begun to work new concepts into her stripes, like zigzags of stacked color, dripping effects and new combinations of color that reflect her interaction with the "now" of pop-culture.

"It's the electricity of today I feel," she said.

But while at first glance, the Hodders' work seems starkly separate from each other, their styles and personalities interact on visual and personal levels.

Fred takes compositional inspiration from the paintings he sees while with Monroe, and she, in turn, basks in the tranquility that Fred's presence provides, both in artwork and in life. Their work may be separate expressions, but the life of an artist is a joint effort, as Monroe said on Friday morning at K. Saari, when she heard her husband call out from the other room.

"Monroe, we need to buff this," Fred called out as he started to wipe down one of his photos.

"That's my job," Monroe said. "I'm his assistant, and he's mine."

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or e-mail

If you go

What: Monroe and Fred Hodder art show

Where: K. Saari Gallery, 837 Lincoln Ave.

When: Through April 15

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