Wednesday, November 12, 2003
She sits in her cabin, tucked in the trees near Lynx Pass. The wood stove is burning, music is playing, and Mary Beth Galer is hunched over her work. Her scissors click closed with a sound like fast-moving knitting needles as she cuts out pictures of early century burlesque dancers and rabbits. She cuts up yellowing sheets of classical music and old maps of Colorado. Her scissors follow the scroll of some Victorian architectural embellishment. The elements collect in a pile for later use.
For now, Galer is consumed by the simple act of cutting paper.
Inside one wall of her studio is a closet, packed to spilling with paper. When her friends go on vacation, they bring her odds and ends from their travels, such as a foreign language newspaper for her to cut up and use.
When she isn't cutting, Galer is gluing. The pieces become patchwork on canvas or furniture, held together visually with paint.
Galer has exhibited with the Steamboat Springs Mixed Media Painting School, but tonight's opening reception is the beginning of her first one-person show.
Galer's work has a Victorian feel, with a tinge of the carnival burlesque. Women peer through paint in much of her work, some restricted by the clothing of their era and some liberated entirely from that clothing.
Galer's work is about freedom.
For years, Galer painted traditional oil landscapes and photorealism. There was something inside her that wanted to create art, but her painting style was restricting and she wasn't enjoying herself.
She painted from photographs and got angry with herself when she didn't capture a scene perfectly. "I quit enjoying it," Galer said.
Then she took a class at Colorado Mountain College with Eileen Braziel.
"She taught me to loosen up. She gave us options and showed me how to have fun (with my art)."
As soon as she started incorporating paper, her paintings loosened up.
"Now, I don't have a plan when I start. I just choose my favorite paper and start from there."