Seeing while blind

Denver is the nearest large city to me, and has a great arts scene. . .  though I don’t get in as often as I would like-  compared to ten years ago, the drive seems more stress-inducing.
A couple weeks ago, I went in to pick up some paintings at Lewis Graham Art Consultants.
Liz and Barbara have shown my work to several people, and I keep fingers crossed.
Over the 15 years I’ve lived around here, the neighborhood where art is found in Denver has shifted a few times, but this last trip in, I was making the rounds and found some pleasant surprises. It was a  month devoted to photography in the galleries. The odd thing is, when I travel and hit up a bundle of galleries in other cities, I search hard for painting to inspire me, but often come away disappointed. Yet, often, it’s photography that contains evocative, poetic images that speak to me.  Do people just back away from the challenge when they work in pigments on canvas?  Is it easier to make design choices instead of fight with the medium to create a full and believable fictional world?

Sabin Aell’s work at Walker Fine Art, combining photos, and printed elements on aluminum, linked together around the gallery with large red arcing shapes on the walls, was an installation idea that I had never seen before.  But I was particularly intrigued with her statement about the show, because it described the fleeting quality of an idea (a towel frozen on the ground) that jolts you to change the course of your work so eloquently.  I was impressed with her writing as well as the images.

then, it was on to the Center for Visual Arts‘ new space on Santa Fe,  displaying a range of work by artists who have varying degrees of vision loss.  I particularly liked Pete Eckert’s images using lights and lengthy exposures, and the shining jewel-like water surrounding kids in Bruce Halls’s images.  There was also a touching video that showed a woman being helped by her husband to aim at the subjects she was trying to capture.  Her macular degeneration only allowed her to sense large simple areas, but she was determined to continue to work.  Far from being random shots, many of these were thoughtful and well planned for very particular visual effects.

Robishon gallery’s enlarged space is now so vast, since they took over the former CVA space next door. The haunting images of Halim Alkarim’s women hidden behind veils of color,  were  countered by Bill Armstrong’s  mysterious Renaissance Dream portraits. I am  big on color as a seductive element, and thought the tension of inaccessibility and seduction was nicely balanced.

Also stopped at the Red Line art center- two large galleries filled with both historic photographic techniques addressing contemporary subjects, and invited artists on the other side. Had to laugh at the large images of sterile white galleries with nearly invisible humans staffing the desks.  And since I had heard about the studio spaces on site, I was curious to see how that worked.  In exchange for very reasonable rents, artists agree to basically keep their doors open during business hours. I must say, this would be tricky for me to adjust to. In fact, it felt a bit unsettling being told to just wander in and look around, when the person doing the work was nowhere to be found.   I would be incredibly jumpy knowing I could be interrupted at any moment…’s hard enough for me to concentrate!

Could I work with people walking in on me?

Could I paint without seeing?

At this point, there’s not much standing in my way, unless it’s myself.

from CVA website-  “Many of us, with sight leading as our dominant sense, use images to build our world. Visual information is practical to our survival and yet it has become pervasive in our world. We respond to visual overload by shuttering and narrowing our perception, a form of self inflicted blindness, so as to rebalance our senses. ….”

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