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Steamboat Magazine


12/01/2009 01:00AM ● By Nora Parker

Winter 2009:


by Nora Parker

SAM Hosts Clyde Aspevig   Oil painter Clyde Aspevig of Billings, Mont., one of the West’s most renowned landscape artists, is featured in a one-man shoat the Steamboat Art Museum through Sunday, April

12.Steamboat Magazine asked him about his art. Crazy Mountain Moonries," a 36x40 oil-on-canvas is one of the more than 50 Clyde Aspevig paintings on display at the Steamboat Art Museum through April.

Steamboat Magazine: You sold your first painting to your dad when you were just 12. What was the subject of that painting? Clyde Aspevig: It was a painting of the Sweet Grass Hills by the Canadian border up in Montana, where I greup. He paid me $10, and I can’t remember what I bought with the money, but I’ve still got the cancelled check!

Steamboat Magazine: You have an appreciation for music — do you play any instruments?

Clyde: I play the piano – all classical. I love jazz and blues and all kinds of music, but I was trained classically. Painting is very similar to music. I’ve actually sat down and arranged shapes in a landscape based on the sheet music in a piece. Steamboat Magazine: Have you ever worked in any other medium besides oil?

Clyde: I’ve worked in watercolor. I very seldom work with it now, but I put myself through college with watercolors. I still enjoy it. But I feel there’s a broader range I can achieve with oils at this point in my career.

Steamboat Magazine: When you close your eyes and picture your art in your head, what goes through your mind?

Clyde: Since I mostly paint landscapes, what goes through my mind is where I’ve been painting. I can smell the smells – all my senses are activated reliving that painting, the sounds, taste, smells, sights – everything. Everything is alive and you start to get a sense of these things as they come together as one feeling.

Steamboat Magazine: The American West obviously fascinates you. Have you traveled

extensively throughout it? Do you hike, mountain bike or ski?

Clyde: I’ve done all those things, and I feel like a modern-day explorer. My wife, Carol Guzman, is also an artist and we have a four-wheel-drive pickup with a pop-up camper. We just head out on BLM roads or county roads – I’m one of those people who have to see what’s over the hill. I like getting into the mountains on horses or with a backpack, and I also cross country ski. But mostly I like hiking – what I call “land snorkeling.” We get outand camp for up to a week and just spend time out in the landscape. I dearly love the West and its big spaces. I’m also involved with the American Prairie Reserve project here in Montana, which is a reserve bigger than Yellowstone. I’m deeply dedicated to keeping huge spaces in the West intact.

Steamboat Magazine: What other settings have been focuses of your work?

Clyde: My main thrust is the Western region and water. My job is to chronicle the landscape. When I paint water, I paint its pristine state, which we need to be conscious of. But I also have a whole collection of European paintings, especially Norway. I’m a full-blooded Norwegian and have relatives there. Last summer we went sea kayaking in the Lofoten Islands, north of the Arctic Circle, and I did a lot of painting. It was great being with people who live in harmony with the land instead of apart from it.

Steamboat Magazine: Your work has been described as representational and impressionistic. Hodo you describe your style?

Clyde: Those two descriptions work. My paintings have a duality to them. You can

enjoy the representation aspect and also the brush strokes and texture – hoyou

manipulate the paint. It’s very abstract. At the same time, because reality is more real

in the viewer’s mind than the painting, I work in symbols. I’m very meticulous about “orchestrating” the landscape.

Steamboat Magazine: The Western landscape is especially fragile today. Do you see your work as becoming historically significant – a record of a pristine environment?

Clyde: Yes. I’ve been painting long enough in the West that I’ve seen so much change. Quite frankly, I don’t think people realize hofast things change until the last tree is gone. It’s like in Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse, the concept of creeping normalcy – we don’t realize things are changing until they’re almost gone. The things we cherish and love in

the West are going away. I’m very sensitive to that – maybe overly so – because I’m

always in the landscape. Steamboat has changed hugely in the 17 years since I was

here last. I’m not against development, but am for doing it properly. Doing it right offers much more value in the future. It can be as simple as lowering the height of a building to keep the vienice for the next guy.

Steamboat Magazine: The sky plays a big role in your pieces. Any significance?

Clyde: First of all, it’s the air we breathe, and that the animals breathe. The sky and the earth are so interrelated there’s no difference between them. When you look at the belly of a cloud, it’s reflecting the earth. The drama of a storm, the exhilaration of what the sky does for our emotional state, is why it’s so important.

Annual Tradition Steamobat Dance Theatre shotakes the stage in March    The Steamboat Dance Theatre has been a community fixture for 37 years, and its annual March shois a perennial crowd-pleaser.     The shotypically runs for three nights, and sells out the last night once word gets out about hogood it is. From its humble beginnings as the "Depot Dance Theatre" in 1972, the shohas grown to involve hundreds of community members. Heidi Meshurel-Jolly answered a fequestions about this year's performance and the background she brings to her role as this year's artistic director.Steamboat Magazine: Homany members of the community get involved in theproduction?Heidi: SDT consists of adults and high school students, as well as volunteers and a tech crew. The cast for the sho

Steamboat Magazine: What will be the most unusual piece this year?Heidi: Without giving anything away, it will probably be the "ladder piece."

Steamboat Magazine: What do you do as the artistic director, and what are youtrying to pull out of the performers?Heidi: I mainly focus on the artistic aspect of the concert. Trying to make it a well-balanced showith different styles of dances; helping the choreographers keep their rehearsals on track; coordinating their costumes and offering advice or help with their pieces; running the tech week and giving notes (sitting in the audienc and jotting down notes on what needs more work); and putting the shoorder together so there's good rhythm but not too many fast costume changes. Most importantly, I work with the producers (Deb Curd and Gina Toothaker) to put the shotogether as a whole. After we finally get to the stage, I need to turn the choreographers and dancers' focus on the audience and dancing for them. I work to get the joy of what they're presenting to come out and reach the audience.Everyone on that stage is there because of their love for the art of dance and I want them to be able to com-municate that to our audience and bring them into the experience.

Steamboat Magazine: Getting people who aren't professional dancers to connect with the audience is one of the major challenges in community performances. What helps you with that and other challenges?Heidi: I've danced professionally for over 27 years. My core training, under the direction of Merriem LaNova of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, was with the Theatre Ballet of San Francisco/BalletCeleste International, where I toured overseas and performed three seasons as Clara in the Nutcracker. I spent nine years with the Walt Disney World Company as a dance swing (a dancer who learns all the female roles in Heidi's case and is able to step in for other dancers), and as Dance Captain for Beauty & the Beast. Most recently, I'm teaching dance at Northwest Ballet Studio, choreographing for theEmerald City Opera, as well as my work with theSteamboat Dance Theatre