Steamboat Springs, as seen through the MiJiKa filter | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs, as seen through the MiJiKa filter

Nicole Inglis

— Jill Bergman, Michelle Ideus and Karen Schulman began asking the question almost a year ago: What was the common thread that ran through their artwork?

It wasn't medium, because Bergman works in printmaking, Ideus in acrylics and collage and Schulman in various forms of photography.

It wasn't in their style, which ranges from whimsical and realistic to conceptual and abstract.

But together, they came up with the concept of a filter for reality: All of their work takes a perception of the natural world and draws it through their personal, creative and colorful filter to reinterpret with imagination, whimsy and story-telling.

"It had to do with observing our landscapes and ideas and how we changed what we saw into our artwork," said Bergman, whose linocut prints recall a playful, illustrative style.

Their show, called MiJiKa (a meshing of the first two letters of their names), is hanging now at the Depot Art Center and will be on display for the month of December.

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The trio held an artist talk last week, and Schulman will conduct a Creative iPhonography workshop from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday (the cost is $25).

Schulman's work on display in the show is a mini-retrospective, starting with her hand-painted photographs (circa 1980s) and ending with her recent "addiction" to her iPhone's camera function.

"I love the iPhonography, I get excited about all the apps," she said. "The theme of the show is about the filter that interprets reality. In every instance, it's not a straight photography. I'm not doing a job to make someone look good or make a product look good."

She likened the process to alchemy in the way reality is transformed from her perspective into a photographic image, and her style has inspired the other two artists, as well.

"I love her enthusiasm and willingness to try new things," Bergman said.

Bergman uses a process in which she etches an image into linoleum and then prints the etching with black ink. She paints in the remaining white spaces using soft green, blue and red watercolors.

Bergman, with her meticulous linocut and printing process, said she found herself learning from Ideus' style at the artists' show-and-tell event last Saturday.

"She showed us how she thinks and acts almost impulsively with the collage elements, then with the paint and back and forth," Bergman said.

Ideus' bright acrylic paintings and collages pay homage to her latest series of horse paintings, but they take her bold surrealism in a new direction.

"I did know the two general ideas, of (Steamboat Ski Area), and I was also kind of trying to finish the horse idea," she said. "These were unfinished ideas from my past."

"I'm taking it out of its normal space and creating a story of its own," Ideus said about her work. "It's taking it out of reality and bringing in colors and shapes. It doesn't make sense, but in the end it's a sensible piece of work. It's just taking the reality out of it."

This month the gallery adds additional hours on the weekends from noon to 4 p.m. with an artist on hand for those days. But if they're not there, a series of QR codes are hanging in the room that can be scanned with smartphones to access narration by the artists about their process and work.

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com