Tribal rugs enhance paintings

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The richly textural work of three Steamboat artists will be brought together with the detailed tapestry of tribal rugs in a new show of mixed-media paintings opening tonight.

The paintings of Keri Searls, Rob Williams and Jill Scully will be shown in "Looming Visions," opening at 6:30 tonight and continuing through March 27 at Chase Oriental Rug Co. in Riverside Center. The paintings, some of them incorporating found objects, will be hung with hand woven rugs from Asia and South America.

The title of the show is a play on words, signifying the textiles incorporated into the show.

"We want people here to see art in a new way," Williams said. "We're presenting three totally different styles and putting them together with textiles."

All three artists say they constantly are reinventing themselves through their artistic style.

Searls has been inspired by the process of continually remodeling her home and finds herself using construction scraps to move toward three-dimensional assemblages in her art.

"My theme is talking about people and the things that they hide," Searls said. "It could be anything," from emotions and feelings to objects.

Searls brings that theme to life with corrugated metal, wood panels and abstract human figures sculpted from drywall plaster or spackle. Portions of the figures are covered, symbolizing the things they hide from others.

"In some cases, it's literal, with the eyes masked out," Searls said. "In other pieces, they may be covering their mouths, to hide what they want to say."

While Searls incorporates found objects into her art, Williams purposefully avoids that technique, preferring instead to create everything that goes into his pieces. However, he also uses "found" objects, in a sense, in his newest work. Williams has rediscovered works he re-created years ago but wasn't satisfied with at the time.

By taking a fresh look at his earlier pieces, many of them monotypes painted in oils, Williams has created something new.

"My work is all about process," Williams said. "A deliberate sense of order and pace is achieved through color interaction, repetitive elements, hand-drawn grid lines and loose geometric shape. The process begins with an initial application of paint or randomly drawn shapes and continues as I react to subsequent layers."

Scully recently has evolved from a fascination with pure collage to relying more heavily on painting. Still, she begins with a collage element that suggests where the painting is going.

Scully covers unframed canvases with a single collage background -- it could be an Indonesian newspaper, or another piece of found paper she has pulled from her constantly changing collection. After letting the canvas sit for a time, literally and in her mind, she begins to paint.

"Instead of starting out with a white, blank canvas, you have this intricate background," Scully said. "I'll see something and use it because there's something I'm attracted to visually. When I'm painting, it increases my palette beyond paint, pencils and pens."

Her subject matter incorporates architecture, landscapes and human figures. The subject matter is not intended to be literal, but emotional. And the finished piece typically reveals selected portions of the original paper collage element.

After its run at Chase Oriental Rug Co., the show will move to The Comb Goddess at 1104 Lincoln Ave.

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