Exhibitions

Slate Gray South: “Efflorescence” & “Place To Place"- Opens With Art Walk; Up Through The Month!

Telluride Arts’ September Art Walk takes place Thursday, September 1, 2022. Throughout the month, Slate Gray Galleries have mounted two shows. At Slate Gray South (formerly the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art) the exhibition is titled "Efflorescence” & “Place to Place” and features the work of Christopher Peter, Dana Flores and Rebecca Crowell. In honor of the Telluride Film Festival, (September 2 – September 5), Slate Gray North is featuring a pop-up art exhibition of behind-the-scenes sketches by Daniel Roher, director of NAVALNY, the award-winning documentary of the shocking attempted assassination of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. (More on that show here.) All artists will be in attendance for the event.

The three artists featured throughout month of September at Slate Gray South march to the same drum. Their work is all about their responses to the natural world. Collectively, they underline the power of art as witness. But the outer expression of the artists’ inner will to form looks completely different in “Efflorescence” (Christopher Peter and Dana Flores) and “Place to Place” (Rebecca Crowell ). Those contrasts make the three shows in the aggregate so interesting and compelling as we are moved differently by each artists to contemplate our unique responses to our unique surroundings.

Efflorescence, featuring the work of Christopher Peter and Dana Flores:

Efflorescence is defined as “the state or period of flowering or blooming or the peak of fulfillment as of a career” – such as “these works are the efflorescence of his/her genius.”

Bingo: both Peter and Flores are blooming as artists, their abundant talent sharing a savvy joie de vivre.

Mixed-media artist Christopher Peter:

Blooms 2

The work of Christopher Peter is often – and aptly – described as a celebration of color, movement, and light. His unique canvases focus on figures, florals, landscapes and abstractions, but the artist combines and blurs the boundaries between these distinctive genres to create a personal narrative around the viewer and the work and everyone’s wide-ranging responses to our surroundings.

“As an extension of this impulse, I often find myself using unconventional materials like handmade papers, marbled textiles, vintage roadmaps, and repurposed book pages in addition to acrylic and oil paints,” explains the artist, continuing:

“I’ve always found it really interesting to see how how far I can push figuration in particular. A little aside here: my grandmother used to do this thing where she would have a family member sit down and then shine a light on their face and trace the shadow and cut out the tracing on paper. I have one of a cutout she made of my mom in second grade. As an adult making art I keep returning to that. The cross-pollination of ideas and the blurring of boundaries seems to come whether I intend it to or not!”

Peter’s newest body of work, “Born to Bloom,” is, according to gallery director and curator Krissy Kula, “inspired by Boston’s exuberant display of spring flowers.”

Peter’s process starts with a photograph.

“I’ve painted friends, acquaintances, people who work in my building, the woman who drives the Silver Line bus that went past my old studio… It can be anyone interested in the work who wants to be a part of the story! I’ll typically choose a particular pose to fit an idea, style, canvas dimension, and palette, then I’ll get to work on the painting. I paint everything un-stretched, the canvas cut from a massive roll that is tacked flat to my work surface. I then build the piece in layers, the entire surface developed in stages. So the prep layer is worked simultaneously, the underpainting is next, then layers of paint, layers of collage, layers of paint, collage, etc. until the piece starts to make sense and tells me where to go and what to do. Once I render the image and the negative space is realized, I untack the work-in-progress from the wall and build the stretcher bars and brace. I then stretch, varnish and install the wire for hanging. So the entire piece is completely created by hand. If the painting is a commission, the client and their designer or gallerist are all included in this process. Regardless, bringing the vision to life is such a wonderful feeling!”

The result? Each of Peter’s works is completely archival and will remain true to its original aesthetic intention for generations to come.

Hidden Figure

 

Christopher Peter, more:

Born in 1987, Christopher Peter was raised in Phoenix and received his formal art education at Arizona State University. After becoming established in the art and design communities in the Southwest, he joined galleries across the US. His first international exhibition was in 2017 at the prestigious Miami Art Basel.

How did it all begin?

“As a child I was always drawing comics, trying to emulate the line quality and the variations I would see in the comics section of the local newspaper. I would start the day with a bowl of cereal and the comics pages… those were happy times as a kid! I was obsessed with the variety of styles, the humor, the strength of the drawing and the bold colors. I specifically remember during my elementary and middle school days getting off the bus after school and literally running home to draw alone in my bedroom. It was some sort of internal impulse. None of my family members are artists, but I’m lucky in that my mother was encouraging and let me attend various art classes during my childhood, thereby showing me that art was something that could be taken seriously in the world of adults! Truth be told I didn’t fully understand the world of visual art as a profession until after I had graduated art school. It remains embarrassing to admit that I was woefully unprepared for what awaited me in the world of maintaining a professional art practice. However, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from my mistakes, celebrate my achievements and develop a rewarding career.”

What does Peter hope viewers at his Telluride show will take away from the work?

“I think art should be fun! I’m a big believer in the power of art to generate absolute joy and, if a viewer connects with a piece and it reminds them of a loved one, a friend, a beautiful experience or landscape, and those recollections make them happy, I know I’m on the right track.”

Ceramicist Dana Flores:

Fluid, yet rustic and raw defines the work of California native and ceramicist Dana Flores.

The artist was initially influenced by everything she discovered in nature and history – volcanos, jungles, Mayan temples with ancient carvings, rough stoneware, rocks, leaves, seeds and flowers – on travels through Central and South America and Japan and visits to Joshua Tree, the desert where she goes to replenish her soul.

“Wow Joshua Tree ! Have you ever been? I’ve been going since I was 17. For me now Joshua Tree is like being under the sea millions of years ago. There is also such a calmness in that still sleepy town I just love. The energy from the vortexes out there are also undeniable. As soon as I sit on the land in my moon circle or anywhere I open up to such great and new possibilities. The color changes all day long from sunrise to sunset and I try to captive those variegated shades in my work. There was a moment, a rough time in one of my daughter’s lives, I just was out there weeping for a week and building a very favorite flower. That healing exercise became the foundation of the direction my work would ultimately go. As I have long known and frequently stated flowers keep saving me…”

With a tip of the hat to The Bard’s “Romeo & Juliet, “What’s in a name?” Short answer: a whole body of work. Flores is Spanish for flower and flowers are clearly Flores’ muse:

“I started making organic forms and flower shapes when I was still Dana Williams. It just so happened I married into that name and I’m still stuck on the flower.”

As in Nature, each of Flores’ creations are one of a kind, something you might like to take home with you to remember a point in your own journey:

“As I navigate through life I see and feel a sensuousness, a fluidity all around and, when I am working from this emotional place of beauty, the thoughts I express openly through my work are very raw. Most of my flowers have been dark or light, but I’m just now moving into color. Another reason I choose to focus on flowers is because they one of the things we ordinarily can’t keep with us. Flowers don’t turn into fossils or crystallized gems or shells; they just go away. But I want flowers to last forever. Every dainty and delicate gifts I found in nature on my travels – little rocks, shells, seed pods and, of course, flowers – have stayed in my psyche and heart and are channeled in my creations…”

When Flores was first finding her artistic voice her goal was to make a giant flower to see if she could get it to come out of the kiln in one piece. But everything broke:

“So I started building bases. Now I begin by hand-throwing smallish slabs that each form differently. I then manipulate the piece, pulling and shaping to get texture into each petal. I find that process meditative as I usually stand, walk around, even just move to the music on my headset or loud speakers, especially when I am alone in the studio at night. I usually make 20-30 petals at a time that ultimately become a distinct flower. And those petals tell me where they go. I think I know, but when they are all laid out I see the form that was always meant to be…”

Dana Flores, more:

Dana Flores is a native Californian who started ceramic arts in the early 1990s at The Potters Studio.

“I actually started ceramics around ’91, then traveled for better part of a year through Central and South America. When I landed in Portland, Oregon I studied slip cast porcelain under Andrew MacCorkindale, then moved to Japan for six months and did some hand-building at a neighborhood co-op.”

Flores has focused on art since she was little, mostly drawing and watercolors.

“I was going to go to CalArts when I left high schoo to go to Japan to start modeling. I ended up modeling and acting for 11+ years. Japan opened my eyes to ceramics from antiques, tea ceremony cups, sake cups… I loved the restaurants in Japan and all those amazing ceramic vessels.”

When she returned to LA Flores needed a job and became a server at an event – for an instant:

“I walked straight into the kitchen and said I’ll chop onions or anything, but I don’t want to be a server anymore. Two weeks later I got a call to see if I wanted to get trained as a pastry chef. I said ‘yes’ then after two years, pregnant with my first daughter, I wanted to switch to savory foods. I soon quit pastry and my partner at the time and I opened up our own catering business which lasted until March 12, 2020, when I found my silver lining. I had wanted out of catering and had gotten back into my ceramics and was hoping that discipline would become my exit plan. Be careful what you wish for. Or not.”

Six months before Covid changed the national landscape, Flores found representation with interior designer and was preparing to make 200 flowers to install in a new restaurant. That never happened because the world shut down.

“But that’s when my art took off. I’m so grateful to return to Telluride for the third time in 1.5 years. This is my first really big show at Slate Gray and I am so I am looking forward to it. But honestly, mud pies as a kid playing in the dirt, riding motorcycles in the mud, I have always loved getting dirty and ceramics are really dirty, so I am happy I get to create in this medium. The influence of being a chef and raising three children for the last 18 years is instrumental in the detail, shape, and movement of each of my pieces today. I am being brought back to my core when creating new work.”

“Place to Place” featuring the cold wax art of Rebecca Crowell:

Perimeter #4

Crowell’s work has the similar, awe-inspiring impact of Abstract Expressionist icon Mark Rothko, the artist having eliminated figure and ground in favor of color and form – with echoes of a “landscape” featured in her quietly majestic art.

In fact, Crowell’s abstract landscapes could easily be interpreted as soul-scapes, with their fluid balance between abstraction and deliberate, if obscured, references to the natural world she venerates. Plant life, earth, rocks and light show up in her canvases as ghost memories of magical moments, pushing one critic to describe Crowell’s paintings as “memory maps.”

Surprising though it may be in the face of the surface equanimity, the production of a Crowell painting is a physically demanding, sometimes violent, process. Using sharp tools, layers are scratched, eroded and dissolved to reflect what occurs naturally in rugged landscapes – while the artist still makes space for random, happy accidents. Regardless, in the end, Crowell’s spare, but dense images are tethered to the artist’s spirituality.

Above all the artist has learned to “trust the process.”

Crowell has written: “The goal in my process is not to render something in paint, rather to allow the paint to suggest a path through the work as it develops. But I remain in charge of what to keep and what to discard, and how to structure and organize the image.”

Assessing her latest body of work, it becomes evident Crowell believes in the transformative powers of art and the ability of artists to conjure sensations through their work such as happiness, love, beauty, perfection, feelings we are all capable of experiencing especially when out and about in the healing presence of Mother Nature.

Perimeter #3

 

Perimeter #2

Rebecca Crowell, more:

Since earning her MFA in painting from Arizona State University in 1985, Rebecca Crowell has led a life focused on her art. When she is not traveling for teaching or for artist residencies (in such places as the Catalonia region of Spain, northern Sweden, and coastal areas of Ireland), she works almost daily in her studio, drawing significant influence from her residencies and travels, as well as from the surrounding landscape.

“Certain kinds of landscapes move me and feel like home to my soul. They are rugged, wild, and vast places, yet they also contain softness, quiet and mystery. I’ve spent time in places like that in Ireland, northern Sweden, New Mexico and New Zealand – walking, exploring, photographing, and simply being alone in the landscape. Certain moments seem to hold an essence of the place, and these forms, especially strong sensory memories. Tapping back into these memories leads to my abstract vocabulary of color, texture, line, and shape.”

Painting satisfies a basic need for Crowell:

“(My work) is a channel to my inner self, a reflection of these meaningful experiences, and a path to new discoveries. My aim is to achieve structural integrity and strength through the accumulation of quiet passages and nuanced surfaces. I build up multiple layers of paint (with additives including cold wax medium, powdered pigments and sand). Sometimes the layers are thick and textural; other times they are thin veils of color. The layers are selectively scratched, eroded and dissolved, an approach that reflects natural processes of the rugged places I love.”

“In Summer 2021, Rebecca Crowell packed her bags and made the cross-country move from rural Wisconsin to Santa Fe, New Mexico. The experience and emotions associated with leaving her home of more than 40 years heavily influenced the newest series of abstract cold-wax works now on display at Slate Gray South. Crowell is a leading expert on the cold wax medium and has taught many workshops worldwide, including at Telluride’s very own Ah Haa School for the Arts,” adds Allison Cannella of Slate Gray.

Writer | Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events, since 1993. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.
 

Navalny | Daniel Roher

Slate Gray North | 209 E Colorado Ave, Telluride, CO

Opening Reception | September 1, 5-8pm

Book Signing | September 2 & 3, 2-4pm

Artist Talk | TBD

Starting September 1-8, Slate Gray North will feature a pop-up art exhibition of behind-the-scenes sketches by Daniel Roher, director of NAVALNY, the award-winning documentary of the shocking attempted assassination of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, from CNN Films and HBO Max. Roher’s sketches for the multimedia exhibition are a special selection of behind-the-scenes depictions of Alexei Navalny’s time in exile while making the film, and a view into the dangerous political dynamics that preceded and followed Alexei Navalny’s poisoning, as well as the high tech investigation into who was responsible for it. Roher’s acclaimed film follows the anti-corruption campaigner and former Russian presidential candidate as he unpacks a conspiracy to poison him, and reflects upon his vision for the future of Russia. 

Roher filmed Alexei Navalny as he worked to uncover the truth behind his poisoning in 2020. The artwork was created by Roher during the making of the film, and was pivotal to his creative process. Roher will be in attendance, signing the accompanying book made about his experience making the film, and providing original drawings.

NAVALNY follows Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, through his political rise, attempted assassination, and search to uncover the truth about the attempt upon his life. It has been reported that Alexei Navalny is currently detained in a high-security prison in Russia. His imprisonment has been heavily criticized by human rights groups worldwide. The world premiere of the film was at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Festival Favorite Award and the Documentary Audience Award. NAVALNY is currently available to stream via HBO Max for subscribers in the U.S. and across much of Europe. TRT: 98 min.