10 artists featured in new gallery

Comic strips will hang next to more traditional work

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There are five American art forms: jazz, the musical comedy, the mystery novel, the banjo and comic books.

It depends who you ask. To much of mainstream America, after all, comic books are perceived as children's toys.

"It's (seen as) something you outgrow," local comic artist Aimee Kimmee said. Not something you hang on the walls of a gallery.

Kimmee is a hard-core science fiction and comic book fan. Her house is a collage of Star Wars action figures and a living room guarded by a 4-foot green alien dressed in lame and waving an American flag.

Because there is no comic book store in Steamboat, Kimmee scavenges the grocery stores for the few Marvel and DC comics in the magazine sections. She follows the Green Lantern, the Fantastic Four and re-released comics about the heavy metal band KISS.

"The artwork is fantastic," she said. "What attracts me most is the way they use color. I also love the way they draw action.

"A lot of people think that comics are for children, but they don't look close enough. It's an interesting way of communication. Nobody gets past the fact that it's a comic book."

Kimmee sees herself as an artist, and she believes that her chosen art form is, in fact, art -- but she also knows that she and other comic-book artists have a lot of convincing to do.

That is why she's curious about the reception she'll receive this weekend when she hangs her comic panels next to work more widely accepted as gallery fodder.

Kimmee has never been part of an art show before, she said. It's been a learning experience ever since she answered an ad that got her involved in a 10-person exhibit for the opening of the Temporary City Gallery.

The ad asked for artists who felt thwarted by the establishment. Kimmee made the call.

She was a fine-arts major in college with an emphasis in writing. She moved to Steamboat 10 years ago, taking jobs in the service industry.

Two years ago, she started publishing her comic, "If It's Tourist Season," in The Local. The comic is based on her experiences as a waitress and as a clerk at Central Park Liquor.

"I exaggerate a lot, but it's sad how much is from real life," she said.

Kimmee, 31, makes Steamboat laugh with her pen-and-ink drawings of tourists asking dumb questions. In a new comic called "Ski Bum Adventures," she makes equal fun of locals.

"I've been working out the fine balance between living here and working and being creative," she said.

"Ski Bum Adventures" involves a cast of characters based loosely on herself and former roommates.

She plans to mount and display seven panels. Several more will be in a bin.

"I get a good response to my comics," she said. "I'm not Gary Larson, but people can identify with them."

Kimmee's work will be on display with nine other local artists -- Paula Jo Steele, Dale Whiting, Jeffrey Hall, Rae Rouse, Jamie Horacek, Bob Reese, Ann Root, Donny Leavitt and Eric Dorris.

The show was hung in an empty office space on Elk River Road and dubbed the Temporary City Gallery. The effort was orchestrated by Peter Dewolf, owner of Mona's Art of the Go, who saw it as a way to advertise his own business while helping local artists get exposure.

The opening will begin at 7 p.m. today at 2550 S. Copper Frontage off Elk River Road.

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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