Interactive art show on display in Steamboat Springs this month
November 1, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Ripped remains and shredded canvas lay strewn across artist Gergory Block's studio. Pieces of what once was his artwork were not abandoned from the creative process.
"I was going through a metamorphosis in my work, which involved destroying a whole bunch of old paintings," he said.
It was January when they came together again.
"I loved the way they looked. I nailed them together. I thought I'd synthesize them into something new."
The large canvas-on-canvas collage piece called "Reconstruction" hung in a stark Depot Art Center gallery during October, but it wouldn't be alone for long.
It soon would be figuratively shattered into pieces again as 32 artists responded to Blocks' "Reconstruction" with constructions of their own.
From oil paintings of realistic scenes to glass collages and literary works, the artists contemplated Block's work in the context of their own with the parameters only of a 12-inch-by-12-inch canvas.
The resulting show will be on display this month at the Depot Art Center, with an art opening from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday during First Friday Artwalk.
The Steamboat Springs Arts Council's visual arts committee came up with the idea and will use the show as a fundraiser for the Arts Council's visual arts programs.
The canvases were handed out to interested artists for free. Each of the response works will be for sale for $200 with a portion or all of the proceeds from each going toward visual arts programming.
"One of our main goals with this project was we wanted to engage the community in the slow season," show curator and Arts Council Artistic Director Park Myers said. "I'm pleasantly surprised at the real diversity. I expected a lot in terms of distances on the scale of interpretation, but I think each artist in their own way ran with it."
Included in the responding artists were familiar names like Susan Schiesser, Christie Ginanni, Denise Bohart Brown and Cindy Wither. There also were new artists and 5-year-old artists who drew connections between Block's work and their own.
Wither's connection to the original work is poignant in that she taught Block art in high school in South Routt. Now, inspired by this work of her former student, she said she typically is a plein air painter and a watercolorist.
"This is totally out of my imagination," she said. "That's what makes it sort of fun."
In the abstract collage, she saw shapes and scenes that eventually formed into an expressionist Tuscany-like landscape.
"I saw a sun, a building, and down below, it became fields," she said. "I was working with what was in there.
"It reminds me of teaching a class," she said about the “Reconstruction” concept. “You put out an assignment, and they all come back so differently."
Block said the responses overwhelmed his expectations.
"For me, I thought this particular work was a real realization," he said about "Reconstruction." "I feel in lots of the responses, the artists have maybe come to more fully understand what's really important in their own respective process in really changing the way they approach a work."
Perhaps completing the circle — or maybe just taking one more step down a linear evolution — Block responded to his own work with a reconstruction of "Reconstruction." He nailed to the 12-inch-by-12-inch canvas a design of flattened and burnt aluminum cans.
In the cans, he's found a new medium, where destruction meets creation once again.
See a complete First Friday Artwalk schedule here.
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com
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