CREATIVE PEAKS: Peace of Perception

By on March 23, 2016

Todd Kosharek opens the door for each viewer to experience his art in a different way.

New works by Todd Kosharek, ‘Misterioso,’ (left) and ‘Paradigm Shift.’

New works by Todd Kosharek, ‘Misterioso,’ (left) and ‘Paradigm Shift.’

JACKSON HOLE, WY – As an artist, Todd Kosharek hopes his work sparks conversation and raises questions. But he wasn’t prepared for the impact last August’s show had on one person: himself.

Kosharek presented a series of paintings depicting paper cranes, a subject matter he’s known for using in his work for almost 10 years. But this show, held at the now-shuttered Daly Projects, was different than the series of large paintings of paper cranes in rooms in a house. Those paintings are about the intricate paper sculptures; the paintings he showed at Daly Projects were about their meaning as a symbol of peace.

The show evoked big reactions, and later, when Kosharek was talking about it with his wife, Kate Kosharek, they started discussing the meaning of peace and whether it’s attainable. They realized peace is actually a matter of perception. This notion inspired this next show.

Kosharek will show about a dozen new paintings that explore the idea of perception at Altamira Gallery. It is part two of what has turned into a three-part peace project that is a collaboration between Kosharek, his wife, musician Kyle Fleming, and dancer Cady Cox.

Kate Kosharek created a dance piece that Contemporary Dance Wyoming will perform in June. They also will show excerpts at Todd Kosharek’s art opening. Fleming composed music for the piece, which will play during the reception at Altamira.

Normally Kosharek approaches his paintings like a writer. He creates a situation in his paintings that is like a story, which the viewer completes when looking at it.

“That to me is a successful painting, when the viewer is finishing it,” he said.

When Kosharek decided to explore perception through the idea of peace, he didn’t know how to visually bring that to life. One evening, while cooking dinner, playing with his son and slightly panicking about his project, he went to the record player and put on Chopin’s “Nocturnes” to help sooth his nerves. It immediately helped him relax and he started thinking about music, what was it about certain notes placed in a particular order that calmed him? That impact is universal—some find it from a Chinese harp, some from a didgeridoo and others, like Kosharek, from the notes of Chopin. Music, in that way, it is all about perception, he said.

Kosharek used that as inspiration for this new show. He tried to think like a composer, contemplating the relationships between tone, color and atmosphere. He named the pieces using musical terms like “adagio” and “maestro.”

“I want it to be something that when people come to see it, they aren’t coming to finish it, but they are coming to absorb it,” he said.

Kosharek worked on medium-sized canvases. Most of the paintings feature cranes in straight lines. He hopes people look at the paintings and feel a sense of meditation.

“It’s just like what you need when you have to put on that specific music, or are craving a comfort food,” he said.

Two of the paintings stand out in the field. “Paradigm Shift I” and “Paradigm Shift II” were inspired by stained-glass windows Kosharek saw in Catholic churches growing up.

They represent shifts in views in society on issues like gay marriage and racial equality. The two paintings are much larger than the others and don’t fit the style of the other pieces. The paradigm paintings feature cranes partially off the canvas and scattered in a more abstract way.

“Yet they to me are the true definitions of the show,” Kosharek said. They are about changing perspectives and shifting perceptions.

When Altamira offered to host an opening for the new project, it put Kosharek on a tight deadline. It forced him to trust his instincts without overthinking a piece. “It just gave me such freedom,” he said.

It also gave him new perspective on subject matter he’s grown to know intimately in the last decade. “I love the angle and shape of them, and I love that you can anthropomorphize yourself into them,” he said.

He hadn’t ever thought of his work in those terms until people started telling Kosharek things like, “that feels like me.”

“People were reacting that strongly to essentially a folded piece of paper,” Kosharek said.

Kosharek expects to show the third part of his peace project sometime next year. It will focus on history. He will talk about his work at 6:30 p.m. Upslope Brewery and Fine Dining will provide refreshments. PJH

“Duality: The Perception Project,” a solo exhibition by artist Todd Kosharek, with music by Kyle Fleming and a performance from Contemporary Dance Wyoming, opening starts at 6 p.m., artist talk begins at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, and is followed by the dance performance, at Altamira Gallery.

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