CREATIVE PEAKS: Light the Way

By on March 8, 2017

Daylight Saving Time brings two new art shows that celebrate light.

Leslie Gifford’s ‘Uncorking the Magic’ hangs at the Center. Block prints by Ben Roth (right) can be found at Penny Lane Cooperative.

The dance of color

JACKSON HOLE, WY – The promise of abstract painting is to lift back the scrim of representation in order to delve into the potency of color, shape, line, and the energetic quality of brushstrokes themselves.

For Denver artist Leslie Gifford, whose exhibit “A Celebration of Light” opens Thursday at the Center for the Arts, abstract painting grew out of her love of dance, yoga, and spiritual healing arts. “Color, like sound and music, is a vibration,” she said.

Gifford is the first in the Center’s specially curated Campus Exhibitions program in the Theater Gallery. Six local and regional artists were selected to show their work in the gallery this year, along with shows by Center resident organizations. The other 2017 Center artists to exhibit will be Scotty Craighead, Matt Daly, Thomas Macker, and Bronwyn Minton, as well as Courtney Blazon of Missoula, Montana.

Gifford believes color can tap into our psyches and create a sense of peace and well-being. For her Center show, she draws upon her background as a dancer to express movement and joy on the canvas. Simple gestures and lines, robust blocks of color and hints of shapes erupt across Gifford’s canvases. What appears deceptively simple and almost primitive reveals itself to be eloquently harmonious. Her exuberant paintings live up to their aim to be renderings of joy itself.

According to the Center’s creative initiatives coordinator Carrie Richer, the jury for the Campus Exhibitions program felt that Gifford’s work was new and refreshing.

“It is great timing for this show as we are easing out of an intense winter,” Richer said. “I find myself reacting viscerally to each abstract painting. No doubt there is something very special energetically with this show.”

A unique component to the artist’s reception will be an improvisational performance by Dancers’ Workshop’s Kate Kosharek and Lindsay Larson, who will create a show in response to Gifford’s work. “My goal as a performer in this type of setting is to help create a mood or essence and to extend upon what already exists in the artwork,” Kosharek said.

A dance performance in response to paintings by a dancer offers a uniquely multi-dimensional experience of the work, inviting audiences to think about form, gesture, color and light on and off the canvas. “The performance element may encourage the audience to participate with the work in a new way,” Kosharek said.

Opening reception for Leslie Gifford’s “A Celebration of Light,” 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 9 at the Center for the Arts Theater Gallery, with a special performance by Kate Kosharek and Lindsay Larson.

Artist talk by Leslie Gifford, noon Thursday, March 9 at the Center for the Arts Theater Gallery.

Authentic beams

Penny Lane Cooperative hosts an art opening Friday night, featuring new work by Alissa Davies, Jenny Dowd, Steven Glass and Ben Roth.

Davies’ new work includes a richly layered intuitive painting in deep reds and bold oranges. Roth will show recent black and white block prints of beautifully patterned moths. Dowd explores the personalities of inanimate objects in her drawings and sculptures. And Glass offers an eclectic mix of graffiti style portraits.

For Glass, Penny Lane has been a fun and profitable place to show work, where he can take chances that he might not take in a traditional gallery setting. “As a mixture of a hip boutique and an art gallery/bazaar, it gives artists the opportunity to create an organic, evolving space to show work,” he said. “It’s essentially your own gallery within a gallery. You get to be an artist, gallery curator and a small business owner. Plus you never know who will walk in and be interested in your art.”

Penny Lane is chic without being stuffy, elegant but not uptight. Proprietor Andi Keenan brings her panache for style and her down-to-earth friendliness to every aspect of her business. Her vision is solidly community based. “Local art and community events are the backbone of Penny Lane Cooperative,” Keenan said.

In the same way that small independent bookstores or neighborhood pubs also serve as community gathering spaces where a deepened sense of culture and connection happen, Keenan hopes her business serves the same function. “Penny Lane is here for locals to explore art, gather together, laugh with old friends, meet new friends, and experience the magic of Jackson community,” she said. “I want people to be a witness to the incredible talent, creativity, and passion of these artists while enjoying each other.”

Steven Glass will also DJ Friday’s event, and spirits and small bites round out the evening.

“Light it Up” art opening, 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 10 at Penny Lane Cooperative, 185 Scott Lane. PJH

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About Meg Daly

Meg Daly is a freelance writer and arts instigator. She grew up in Jackson in the 1970s and 80s, when there were fewer fences, but less culture. Follow Meg on Twitter @MegDaly1

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