Slate Gray South: Locals' Loop, A Telluride Tradition (through June)!

Thursday, June 2, 2022, marks Telluride Arts’ first Art Walk of the summer season.

Throughout the month, Slate Gray Gallery North Telluride is featuring a group show titled “Sheer Imagination.” (Scroll down to read more about this exhibition).

As of June 1, Slate Gray Gallery assumed the lease for 130 East Colorado Avenue, the former location of the Telluride Gallery. That space also features a group show, this one titled “Locals’ Loop: A Telluride Tradition.” 

Bruce Gomez, Julee Hutchison and Gordon Brown are artists who share a love of the natural world. They are also three peas in the same pod, namely now Slate Gray South, occupying the address associated with the Telluride Gallery. In fact, Gomez was the very first artist the gallery’s original owners, the Thompsons, signed for their stable when they opened for business on Main Street (at 130 East Colorado) back in 1985.

Gomez and Hutchison are similarly inclined, producing easily recognizable, fuzzy-edge, forms that are wonderfully nuanced. Brown is non-objective artist, whose work tends to depict an idealized, abstracted, natural world of lyrical and atmospheric landscapes and seascapes.

The three artists are part of a wide-ranging group show that also includes another renowned artist from the former Telluride Gallery, potter Goedele Vanhille.

The four talented artists in “Locals’ Loop” share a common thread: through their work, the realm of the ordinary (a cow) and the everyday (leaves on a tree) is elevated, almost sanctified.

Bruce Gomez:

Alta Lakes

From one cool remove, Bruce Gomez a realist: what you see is generally what you get, signature shimmering surfaces always pleasing to the eye. Now step up closer to the work and squint: Gomez’s lush, layered pastels become a complex tapestry of abstract passages – parts of the sky, sections of mountains and water – with an Abstract Expressionist feel that, in the end, amounts to gorgeous studies of color and light.

Entirely self-taught in the medium, Gomez has worked with pastels for decades. His creative process begins with a photograph. Next he plots the principle elements of the composition from photograph to paper, which he treats with sandpaper to create his signature velour surfaces. Gomez’ subject matter comes primarily from his travels throughout the western U.S., France, Italy, and England. He tends to feature Telluride, but also Moab, the Grand Canyon, Wyoming, Paris, Provence, and Tuscany.

Gomez’ artistic influences range from Paleolithic art to Alfred Sisley, Maxfield Parrish, Juan Gris, and Gustav Klimt. The goal he set for his work is capturing that one unique and spectacular moment of life, whether in the mountains, in an urban setting, possibly slogging through a deluge, snowshoeing in -10°F, or painting plein air in 101°F.

“I pride myself in painting something that anyone can see themselves if they hang around: no exaggerations, no symbolism, and no implied metaphor.”

Bruce Gomez paints and teaches out of his Denver studio. However, he, like Hutchison, have regularly led classes at Telluride’s Ah Haa School for the Arts.

Julee Hutchison:

Stage to Mt. Wilson

For Julee Hutchison, the outdoors is a place of spiritual revery. Her paintings, however, do not quake with religiosity (like her 19th-century antecedents), rather, they speak volumes about the complex nature of art about Nature in a very quiet, but very direct way: some images are playful; others, more introspective.

Hudson River master George Inness famously said, “You must suggest to me reality. You can never show me reality.”

Hutchison to a “T.”

Hutchinson’s impressionistic landscapes are postcards from the interior, reflecting not a landscape per se, but the artist’s attitude towards a particular place. Hutchinson’s gift lies in an unerring ability to mold her passion for her surroundings into a reflection of private feelings and sensations, at their best – and her new images qualify – a synthesis of direct observation, memory and fantasy, with a growing impulse towards abstraction.

Many of the æsthetic choices the artist now makes reflect her decades-long career in graphic design.

“I think [that career] gave me an edge on designing a good painting.”

The former Telluride Gallery showed Hutchison’s work for more than 16 years. She is also an annual finalist in the Plein Air Salon Competition and named “Artist to Collect” by Southwest Art Magazine.

Stage to Mt. Wilson

Gordon Brown:

A native Colorado artist, Gordon Brown, has been professionally painting for 30 years.

“My paintings are all about light and mood,” Brown once explained to Telluride Inside… and Out.

The man never tires of the view from his converted barn/studio in Ridgway, a place that allows him to observe firsthand the various moods and colors of the changing seasons.

From his earliest years, Brown was rarely found without pencil or paintbrush. Weekend backpacking trips into the Colorado canyons were part of his ritual. The following days would find him assembling his newly found Ute arrowhead collection or painting Indians and their campgrounds.

Teachers and artists strongly encouraged Brown to pursue his artistic talent, not fully realized though until years later when the artist became mesmerized by the work of Chinese painter Shang Ding, who became his tutor and mentor. In true historical tradition, Brown apprenticed under Professor Ding of the Beijing Central Art Academy, accompanying him as they made their way through the landscape, emulating his every brush stroke in a plein air (painting outdoors, not in a studio) style.

Over the years, Brown continues to show his appreciation for the subtleties and drama created by changing light, the through-line of his work, examples of which can be found in the permanent collection of the Denver Art Museum and the Forbes Collection to name just two of the many institutions which have acquired his paintings.

“I borrowed from the old masters, the modern masters, and every artist I know. I’m always experimenting, occasionally destroying and not worrying if it will work or not; being childlike, that’s how I approach painting,” Brown explains.

This unwavering commitment to testing his limits and looking for more ways to interpret on canvas what he sees—has kept Brown’s work fresh and ever-evolving. In his career spanning nearly 30 years, Brown has carved a solid niche for himself as a “new” old master of the luminous landscape.

Recently Brown developed a new techniques to alter his surface texture, specifically in his abstract paintings. He now utilizes masonite board or aluminum sheets as rigid substrates so that he can scratch into the built-up layers of paint.

Gordon Brown was represented by the Telluride Gallery for over 18 years.

Add it all up and the work of Gomez, Hutchison and Brown becomes a tour de force of preternatural color and persistent light, subtle brushstrokes providing an internal architecture, while yielding to dazzling color and beguiling composition. Potter Goedele Vanhille brings childlike wonder and whimsey into the mix.

Goedele Vanhille:

Repository of Dreams

For many years, Belgian-born, Norwood-based potter Goedele Vanhille has created whimsical poetic forms inspired by nature. Her work features carved flowing lines that seem to defy physics.

Vanhille worked with a gas kiln back in Belgium, but for years she fired with electricity. However a relatively recently built a gas-fired kiln has once again allowed the artist to enjoy the fresh, yet familiar array of possibilities fire offer to the pottery process, the outcome affected as it is by the intricate interplay between fire, stacking, flame, heat and soda introduction.

Fire leaves its mark on each piece, dapples of carbon, smooth glassy surfaces and toned down colors that are more muted and earthy. The hand-built work, however, still retains the surreal shapes that are Vanhille’s signature.

Seasonally, Vanhille makes functional work which takes her back to her beginnings with clay and reinforces her long-term intimacy with the material and process. The rest of the year though, the artist experiments with more playful and organic sculptural work such as the pieces on display through the month of June.

Vanhille has shown work both nationally and internationally. To this day, she is able to retain her commitment to her studio and delves happily into her projects, enjoying the surprises they dependably offer.

Morning Wake Up

Slate Gray North & Slate Gray South, more:

Assuming the lease of the space formerly occupied by the Telluride Gallery means Slate Gray will be operating out of two locations, 209 East Colorado Ave.(Slate Gray North) and 130 East Colorado Ave (Slate Gray South). The move also means combining two distinct stables, including many of the regional, national and internationally renowned fine artists and studio jewelers who were with the Telluride Gallery for years, some for decades.

“This is an exciting time of transition,” says Beth McLaughlin, owner, Slate Gray. “We believe this move affords us an even greater opportunity to fulfill our long-standing mission to support Telluride’s cultural economy. Proceeds from sales will be redeployed in support of artistic initiatives in the greater Telluride region.”

Slate Gray North & Slate Gray South, more:

Beth Mclaughlin, owner, Slate Gallery, Telluride & Kerrville, Texas.

Assuming the lease of the space formerly occupied by the Telluride Gallery means Slate Gray will be operating out of two locations, 209 East Colorado Ave.(Slate Gray North) and 130 East Colorado Ave (Slate Gray South). The move also means combining two distinct stables, including many of the regional, national and internationally renowned fine artists and studio jewelers who were with the Telluride Gallery for years, some for decades.

“This is an exciting time of transition,” says Beth McLaughlin, owner, Slate Gray. “We believe this move affords us an even greater opportunity to fulfill our long-standing mission to support Telluride’s cultural economy. Proceeds from sales will be redeployed in support of artistic initiatives in the greater Telluride region.”



Slate Gray: "Sheer Imagination," Group Show Up Now!

Mountainfilm’s Gallery Walk takes place Friday, May 27, 4-7 p.m. at venues listed here. Slate Gray Gallery presents “Sheer Imagination” opening Friday, May 27, 4 – 7 p.m., in concert with Gallery Walk. The show remains up through June 27. Stop by the Gallery on June 2, Telluride Art’s Art Walk, when three of the four artists – Cie Hoover, Kathryn Tatum and Joseph Toney – will be on hand.

Western landscape has a long and storied history in American culture. In the 19th century, artists who painted outdoor scenes, particularly in the American West, communicated a feeling of what can only be described as reverence for the broad open visas and mountain majesties.

In other words, in the 1800s, landscape painting had religious undertones.

Two hundred years later, it appears not much has changed: artists who paint landscapes tend to demonstrate awe in the face of America the Beautiful, an emotion that sadly now resonates with fewer and fewer places, magical outdoor locales that, so far anyway, remain uncorrupted by industry and development in general, pollution and climate change.

Such is the case with the four differently, but equally talented artists in a show at the Slate Gray Gallery North titled by curator/gallery director Krissy Kula “Sheer Imagination.” (Pun intended.)

On display through June, the exhibition features the work of Cie Hoover, Gina Sarro, Kathryn Tatum, and Joseph Toney, who share the fact they never met a mountain or a sky they did not like. And while their mediums and creative processes are very different, the artists come together in the underlying impulse for their disparate works, collectively a synthesis of close observation, memory, and fantasy inspired by the natural world.

Cie Hoover:

The Balance of All Things, Hoover.

Artist, musician, husband, Cie Hoover lives in Ouray, Colorado, otherwise known as the “Switzerland of America.” In addition to performing alongside his wife Karisa in the folk-rock duo You Knew Me When, Cie has always had a passion for the visual arts. After working in the Nashville music industry for over a decade, then touring full-time for six and a half years throughout North America, credit the San Juan mountains for rekindling Cie’s love for creating original works with his own hands.

After buying and remodeling an old 1898 mining house in Ouray, Cie discovered the versatility of wood as a medium and transformed his garage into a woodworking studio filled with routers, saws, and stains. Cie uses wood in nearly every aspect of the art he creates, from wooden canvases to carved sculptures.

A number of Cie’s pieces also incorporate the use of sound waves both as artistic elements, as well as subtle hints about what a particular work of art is meant to communicate.

Rays of Light, Hoover.

“My aim with my pieces is to enhance the innate beauty found in wood and to highlight the three predominant themes found in my art: Balance – as showcased through delicate sculptures; Sound – as showcased through wooden sound waves; and Nature – as showcased through various carvings of mountains and landscapes.

“Woodworking is tactical art form,” the artist continues. “I use it as a means to stay connected with the natural elements that surround me. Through nature I find art. Through art I find balance. And, through balance I find peace.”

Gina Sarro:

When Moments Last Forever, Sarro.

Artists like J.M.W. Turner, Winslow Homers and others, including Bruce Gomez, an early player in the stable of the former Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, years ago pulled off the same hat trick Slate Gray artist Gina Sarro manages now.

Gina’s art presents as realism, that is her paintings in her muted palette clearly read as landscapes. But at second glance, the fuzzy outlines of sky, mountains, trees, water, tilt her work towards abstraction. The paintings are, according to the artist, landscapes from the interior. Memory pieces.

“The literal subject of my work is my surroundings. I paint vast, serene landscapes focussing on simplicity and calm while simultaneously searching for how to document shared life moments.,” she explains in her artist statement. “My intention is to offer a landscape sanctuary where realism is intertwined with abstraction offering a reprieve from the overwhelming world events and unknowns we are all experiencing while living during a pandemic. Through a distinct technique, skies, mountains, water, and trees evoke both flatness and depth. I use both a brush and knife partly to diminish, and partly to layer the paint itself while balancing strong compositional horizontals with rhythmic vertical gestures.

“There’s something about the permanence, but also the fragility of the landscape that resonates with me; outdoors are places to breathe and explore, therefore we all need to care for, nurture and be guardians of the landscape so that it is always there for us.”

Gina draws inspiration from homes in Saskatchewan, where she was born, and the Alberta foothills, where she completed an economics degree at the University of Calgary and studied painting at Alberta College of Art and Design.

Gina also attended the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, where she currently resides.

Her work is held in private and corporate collections in Canada, the US and Australia.

Kathryn Vinson Tatum:

Vermilion Peak, Tatum.

Action painting. Two words that are synonymous with Abstract Expressionism, back when – right after WWII, when the center of the art world shifted to New York from Paris – and now, with AbEx 2.0 painters.

But Kathryn Tatum is not one of them. Instead she is a painter of action.

Kathryn captures the mountains of Telluride and Taos, her two homes, in paintings that celebrate the emotional impact of being on top of the world above tree line. In short, “off-piste” describes Tatum both as an artist and as a skier who regularly enjoys shooting the moon.

Kathryn’s journey from graphic designer to rock stars to fine art painter in the Rockies began in rural New Jersey:

“For the first 10 years of my life we lived without neighbors or kids in our community. If my best friend, my brother, and I weren’t up to something adventurous, I was busy drawing and painting in the screened in, year-round, porch my parents made into an art studio for me.”

Years later, a move to Telluride came as a result of Kathryn’s work for Top Notch Resort and Spa, the team that designed the Spa at The Peaks in Mountain Village.

“I applied for and became the restaurant manager for The Peaks Hotel’s Alpine Glo in 1992. Awestruck by the natural beauty of Telluride and the San Juan Mountains, I once again set up my easel and put paint to canvas…”

Humbled by the extreme above-tree-lined landscapes surrounding the Telluride ski area, Kathryn never really knew how to communicate the beauty of these jaw-dropping vistas until recently. Today, her modern mountain images are comprised of geometric patterns, layers of hand-made paint, dry mineral pigments, mica and wax, all to capture the sacred light found on top of peaks. These high-elevation paintings are multidimensional and light reflective. Kathryn refers to them as “postmodern landscapes.”

Golden Horn Peak, Tatum.

“There are other hidden treasures I encourage everyone to discover for themselves, the variegated beauty of the mountains I am privileged to call home. The place where my twin passions, painting and skiing, come together,” said the artist.

Kathryn’s work was the inspiration for the poster image for the Telluride Jazz Festival 2003-2005. In addition to Slate Gray, her work is displayed in the Nicolai Fechin Museum in Taos, New Mexico and in the annual Taos Select Fall Arts Show.

Joseph Toney:

Like Kathryn, mountainous playgrounds also inspire Joseph Toney.

In his illustrative abstractions, majestic mountains are reduced to clean lines and muscular patterns. These contour studies summarize the richness and variety of the awesome shapes the artist has loved since his childhood growing up in Appalachia, spitting distance from a ski mountain.

Joseph’s creative process begins when he is out ski touring, biking, or hiking, camera in tow. Photograph in hand, initially he executes his painting with freehand sketches, then finishes the work using a process he sums up as “device drawing,” a technique that involves the use of rulers, French curves, and a makeshift compass. The resulting pieces, executed in acrylic and resin and now charcoal, are directly translated onto wood panels.

The Chinese term for “landscape” is comprised of two characters which translate to “mountains and water.” The age-old tradition is linked with the philosophy of Taoism, which emphasizes harmony between man and the natural world.

Cubist paintings, landscapes or otherwise, broke with the academic convention of a single viewpoint. It is as if the artists kept shifting positions and then attempted to combine the different “views” they saw onto a surface. The resulting image is a complex interlocking and overlapping of forms. The subject is transformed into a kind of geometry – or architecture – often rectilinear in makeup.

East meets West, past meets present, in the edgy, increasingly abstract landscapes of Joseph Toney, who cites both Chinese scroll art and Cubism as key influences.

Moonlight, Toney.

The artist Caspar David Friedrich once said “The artist’s feeling is his law.” Joseph’s feeling?: unbridled enthusiasm.

“My goal is for my art to communicate the sense of completeness, liveliness, and excitement I feel when I spend time in the mountains.”

A statement that serves to underline the title of the first group show of the summer season, again, “Sheer Imagination.”