By Monroe Hodder
by Monroe HodderScheisser Gallery-Contemporary Concepts in Art "Live for This” was the provocative title of a shoat Schiesser Gallery last season. The title could describe the fresh vitality of much contemporary work displayed there. The two artists who put this jazzy exhibition together, Darshan Phillips and Aaron Whisner, are in their early 20s and appropriately irreverent. This art duo combines images from the street, media and cinema on rough plywood, put together in clever constructions to challenge and charm the viewer. Though it may be surprising to find such edgy work in a Steamboat Springs gallery, these paintings all but sold out and another shois scheduled in March. -Susan Scheisser with her dog, Mr.Briggs, at Scheisser Gallery. Photo courtesy of Alana Rothstein. Fast becoming the place where artists and art lovers congregate since its opening in November 2005, Schiesser Gallery brings vital, diverse strains of international contemporary art to the Steamboat art scene while encouraging artists of strong local sensibility. Owner Susan Schiesser, herself a painter, is willing to take risks on emerging artists and exciting concepts. A finely etched black-and-white photograph of a local barn by JoAnn Baker Paul hangs near a fresh and expressive flower painting by Pat Walsh, and it all works. Julie Anderson, a ceramist in the gallery, layers hand-built clay slabs in swirling shapes that recall geological formations. Other artists have a strong affinity with landscape. Susan paints abstractions based on swerving aerial views of the valley. Rob Williams’ subtle work takes root in plant forms while Donald Berry reduces country scenes to paintings of their essential simplicity. Fred Hodder shows hushed pastoral photographs; Terry Riley, a local dentist, produces delicate and floating Polaroid transfers of natural images. “I care about contemporary art,” Susan says. “I believe my perspective and experience contribute in a positive way to Steamboat’s cultural scene, artist by artist.”
Rob Williams, Painter of "Leaves and Grass" Rob Williams speaks in a tone of jovial humility, tugs on his cap and describes himself as “just a simple guy who likes to paint.”
Viewing his glowing oil paintings, one might remark instead, “here is an artist who is truly a natural.” Rob was trained in advertising and started the Design Ranch in Steamboat. Despite a heavy work his painting, experimenting freely with nematerials and images. He nohas a large following of collectors. Rob Williams' oil paintings reveal nature's finest forms from different angles. Photo courtesy of Alana Rothstein. On frequent hikes through the wilderness with his dog, Elsie, Rob studies nature from all angles. Though his paintings often reflect the drift of clouds across the wide Western skies, he is particularly engrossed by the vieunderfoot. “I love the stuff I step on,” he says. “I can see 500 paintings in a small patch of weeds.” The painting “Breathe Me” has the intimacy of undergrowth at eye level. Marks that hover between abstract scrawls and delicate tendrils float in azure fields. A finish of smooth resin gives the gloof a celadon glaze. The conjoining of eight separate panels in one painting creates an impression of sequential views remembered and enjoyed, of changing moods and climates over a stretch of time. One could be watching airy, fleeting movements of light and shade or reflecting on the surface of deep ponds. Another painting, “Two Ponds,” consists of two panels that seem to catch the light filtering down through watery windows, each illuminating an organic blossom in its depths. These biomorphic shapes suggest a sort of pulsating growth, a cycling through decay and rebirth. Take a long look at these elongated panels; they express a magical surge toward light and life.
Rob’s work is exhibited at Schiesser Gallery in Ski Time SquareWoman in the Dunes-The Photography of Kim Keith At first glance, the image “Dawn’s Light” looks like a spare and sensuous sand dune, almost surreal in its stark beauty. Moving closer, the lovely slope and soft flesh of a woman become apparent. This black-and-white photograph is the work of local artist Kim Keith, who calls her images “bodyscapes” to reflect landscape forms expressed in the human body. “Every body is beautiful,” she says.
The Colorado Institute of Art graduate could not afford her own models initially, so she worked with clients who shared her interest in an abstract approach to portrait photography. She rarely reveals the face and it’s often difficult to identify the body parts on show.
The first image that gave Kim confidence to pursue this avenue of photography is “Bodyscape #1.” The artist holds this iconic photo in her hands, rapidly turning it to demonstrate the shifting balance of light and dark, land and sky, form and void.Kim Keith works on a Polaroid manipulation in Abiquin, NeMexico. Photo courtesy of Kim Keith.
An expert at studio lighting, Kim uses shadoin large areas and highlights a curve or line to create a strong, elemental shape. She takes a detail of the body and expands the image to fill the frame. While this detail retains the presence of a particular woman, it also becomes an abstraction. Kim uses high contrast black-and-white film to create varying depths of field that heightens the sense of open landscape in her work.
Pinned above Kim’s desk is a quote from photographer Minor White. “It’s not what it is but what else it is.” Perhaps this explains the quality of metaphor in her images, the way a small crease in the body can appear to be a mountain crevasse. “I am interested in the things lying in the shadows, the more mysterious, the more open to interpretation, the better,” she says.
Linking positive forms with negative space, Kim’s camera lens creates both an intimate caress of flesh and a vast expanse of sky. Her photography is displayed at the neArtists’ Gallery of Steamboat located at 1009 Lincoln Ave. B