Red Brick Biennial showcases diverse visions from 50 local artists |

Red Brick Biennial showcases diverse visions from 50 local artists

Close up of Susan Kolbe's piece "Pando," at the Red Brick Center for the Arts Biennial Opening on Thursday, September 1st.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

If You Go …

What: 2016 Red Brick Biennial

Where: Red Brick Center for the Arts

When: Through September

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It’s unsurprising that many artists in these parts depict mountains, rivers, aspen trees, wildlife and such in their work. What is surprising is the seemingly limitless ways that artists see them and represent them — across style and media, abstracted or representational.

A walk through the Red Brick Center for the Arts’ 2016 Biennial is a fascinating survey of the diverse visions of 50 local artists. The show, which opened Sept. 1 and runs through the end of the month, is sensitively curated to highlight these eclectic perspectives.

Roberta McGowan’s gilchee on canvas of a group of horses, for instance, is placed beside Lisa Pendrys’ kinetic vision of a horse in motion across a triptych of photo encaustic pieces titled “Run with the Wind.”

Hone Williams’ naturalistic oil painting “Quiet River” and Joe Jones’ acrylic of a fertile and greener-than-green Hanging Lake are steps away from Don Arneson’s retouched photo “Feeding the Crystal,” which finds psychedelic patterns and eye-popping energy — all three are versions of bodies of water but have little else in common.

Our mountains get equally divergent treatment. Standouts include Eden McDowell’s minimalist vision of a mountainscape in winter, placing white paint on wood to form its slopes, and there’s Jocelyn Audette’s oil showing a driver’s-eye view of Independence Pass in early summer. Nearby, Steve Vanderleest’s large format photo on metal “Maroon Bells” offers the classic shot of the snow-dusted Bells in autumn, flanked by golden aspens, all reflected in Maroon Lake.

The show is bookended by bears, an acrylic on canvas by Jan Panico on one side and David Nelson’s bronze sculpture of a cub on the other.

In between there are abstracts such as Michael McConnel’s music-inspired “On the Ground” and Vallee Noone’s intricately detailed cut paper piece “Unfinished Business” and Mike Otte’s smokey pencil drawing “Old San Miguel” and Kathy Honea’s manipulated iPhone photo “Cow in the Woods.” You could get lost in them for hours.

It’s evident from the biennial that there’s no dominant Aspen mode of art-making, that local artists are as adventurous as you’d expect in this adventuresome community — working across photography, paint and sculpture in all their varied forms.

This is the fifth biennial at the Red Brick. Every other year, the show exhibits work from 50 local artists from the Roaring Fork Valley and slightly beyond (extending out to Redstone and Marble).

The call for artists went out in Feburary and drew 80 submissions. The 50 pieces in the show were selected by local gallerist Gordon Keating, of Keating Fine Art in Basalt, and Mikkel Kelly, executive director of the Western Colorado Center for the Arts.. The two-juror review process allowed the show to welcome an array of styles into the exhibition rather than the vision of a single curator.

The result is a fascinating snapshot of local art in 2016.

“It’s always interesting to have somebody who sees a lot of art and has an eclectic background, because that’s how we get a diverse show,” Red Brick Executive Director Angie Callen said last week. “We want a jury that will select a diverse show that’s representative of all the different kinds of work happening throughout the valley.”

All of the work is for sale, ranging in price from under $200 to over $6,000.

Callen said the biennial tends to draw submissions of experimental work, of local artists who may be known for one style trying on another for size. For example, Linda Loeschen has established a reputation for painting traditional Western scenes of cowboys and the like. Her “Syncopation” switches things up with an abstracted watercolor of aspen leaves and trees.

“They may submit something that’s out of the box for them, or a new style, because I think they want to see how it’s received,” Callen said.

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