A rite of spring
Spring Gallery Walk returns Friday

A mirror sits atop a display case just inside the Karyn Gabaldon Fine Arts gallery on Tuesday. The gallery will be featuring Albuquerque artist Angus Macpherson’s acrylic on canvas paintings of Durango’s landmarks./Photo by Todd Newcomer.

by Jules Masterjohn

Calling all art revelers! This Friday night is Spring Gallery Walk, where all around downtown, art galleries and other culturally oriented establishments will be opening their doors to present their regularly offered art fare as well as new works by artists of regional and national acclaim.

New this year is the inclusion of Maria’s Bookshop as an art-viewing venue. Moab artist Serena Supplee will be showing her original oil and watercolor paintings in conjunction with a signing of her recently published book, Inner Gorge Metaphors, a collection of paintings and poetry that echoes her creative journey through the Grand Canyon.

As a warm up to the Gallery Walk, a preview event will be held at Karyn Gabaldon Fine Art at Seventh Street and Main, where Albuquerque artist Angus Macpherson will talk about his acrylic on canvas paintings depicting a few of Durango’s more famous landmarks, like the Strater Hotel. Also showing in the gallery is art created using a range of techniques, from the primitive to the cutting edge: pit-fired vessels by Durango-area potter Boots Brown; intriguing mixed-media digital works by Seattle artist Karin Schminke; and new paintings by gallery owner, Karyn Gabaldon, Brown treats his earthenware pots the way pottery has been fired since humans first discovered it. The marks of the flame and smoke on the surfaces of his rotund vessel are elegant evidence of his ancient alchemic firing process. Gabaldon shows some of her latest watercolor works, a departure from her mystical landscape imagery. They new works lean toward a more abstract expression of the land with color, shape and implied movement her subject matter. Schminke is using state-of-the-art digital equipment and technologies combined with good old-fashioned painting to create simple, unforgettable images that reflect a 22nd century aesthetic. Eliciting an almost spiritual presence, her nature images appear to be holographic, and I can’t get them out of my mind.

Ellis Crane Gallery, between Ninth and 10th streets on Main, is presenting new paintings by Cynthia DeBolt and Phyllis Stapler, both from Durango. DeBolt’s new oil landscapes are more imbued with bold color that her older, more naturalistically hued works. Oranges, blues and reds push forward from the canvases. Stapler’s richly painted compositions depict simply arranged images of animal and plant life, isolated in “the moment,” in a world all their own.

Realistic bronze sculpture will be featured in two downtown galleries. At Sorrell Sky, the life-like animal sculptures of Patsy Davis are on display. Davis, who spent most of her career designing giftware for companies like Disney, will be at the gallery that evening and again on Saturday, demonstrating her sculpting technique.

Toh-Atin has invited area artist Kevin McCarthy to be on hand, answering questions regarding his Western-themed sculptures. Perhaps he will tell us what inspired him to create, “The Awakening,” a life-size figure of a dancing nude woman covered in a chilling blue patina. The Politically Correct part in me wants to hear him say that this prancing, post-pubescent nymph is a metaphor for the exuberant emergence of the feminine into our cultural consciousness. Hopefully, the Navajo weaving that last wee, was draped over her torso will be removed so we can appreciate McCarthy’s hand at realism, not only his use of symbolism.

Up on Second Avenue, the Open Shutter Gallery presents new work by Dolores photographer Lou Swenson. His beginnings in photojournalism can be seen in one of my favorite images from his last show, which is still on display in the gallery’s photo bin. It is a shot of a large billboard mounted uncomfortably near a triple X girly joint, and the advertisement reads “Jesus is watching you.” The current exhibit of abandoned buildings and forgotten rural sites, “Forsaken Places,” reveals Swenson’s eye for contemporary content and cunning composition, as well as his ability toward consummate craft.

A trio of exhibits opens at the Durango Arts Center on Friday night: “Earth, Stories, Marks & Memories” presents work by area artists J. Burnite, Judy Hayes, Beth McClure and Tirzah Camacho; the inaugural show in the DAC’s new members’ gallery, Local Expressions, offers new monoprints and charcoal drawings by Maureen May and monoprints by Paul Pennington; and upstairs in the Art Library is “Mapping the Littoral Zone,” showing sculpture, artists books and paintings by El Rito, N.M., artist Julie Wagner. The artists will be at the DAC to meet the public.

These three exhibits will be the subject of next week’s column, where I will share observations by and opinions from myself and others about what it means to create “authentic” art – that is, art inspired by one’s individual and unique experience. Until then, I advocate an evening of walking … no, skipping … from gallery to gallery on Friday night, meeting the makers and enjoying the multitude of forms that creativity offers. •

Spring Gallery Walk takes place on Friday, May 5 from 5:00 to 9:00 pm at participating galleries and cultural establishments in downtown Durango.



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