New exhibitions from Merrill Steiger and Richard Carter |

New exhibitions from Merrill Steiger and Richard Carter

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
"Homage to Miro" from artist Merrill Steiger's "Zen / Dot / Energy" solo exhibition in her gallery at 625 E. Hyman Ave. in Aspen.
Courtesy photo

Two pop-up art galleries on the 600 block of Hyman Avenue, adjacent to the Aspen Art Museum, have new bodies of work on view.

Artist Merrill Steiger will open the new exhibition “Zen / Dot / Energy” on Thursday evening from 5 to 8 p.m. Steiger — who moved to Aspen last year from New York, where she had a decades-long career — has created large format works of intricate detail for the exhibition.

They’re inspired by her work with a Kabbalah teacher, and influenced by the minutely detailed and linked geometric handwork of contemporary aboriginal Australian artists (showcased in Aspen at the short-lived Brumby-Ute Gallery in 2015). The paintings link dots and circles on abstract canvas works as large as 7-by-5 feet.

It’s the second show Steiger has opened in her 625 E. Hyman space, following the more narrative works in her mid-summer “Sci Fi” exhibition. The divergent aesthetics of the shows, she said, are aimed at introducing her work to Aspen and testing out the tastes of local collectors.

“Because I don’t yet know my audience here, I wanted to do something very different with this series,” she said.

A few doors down at R. Carter Gallery, the valley-based artist and Aspen Art Museum co-founder Richard Carter recently opened “Masks and Mandalas.” The second of three shows Carter will hang in his summer-long pop-up, “Masks and Mandalas” runs through Sept. 8.

It showcases a new series of work from Carter, for which he’s painted portraits of masks from his personal collection. Each of these acrylic and watercolor paintings is mounted on two layers of vintage wallpaper in an antique frame.

“The portraits alone felt forlorn and rather empty,” Carter writes in the exhibition catalog. “By layering various wallpapers behind the portraits, they suddenly had a context that made them seem more alive, more like they do when they are being danced.”

Completed between 2017 and this year, the works center largely on animal masks — a jaguar, a monkey, a bull — in a rare venture into portraiture from the renowned abstract artist.

The mask works are paired with geometric paintings from Carter’s “Mandalas” series, some of which he showcased in a 2016 show at the R2 Gallery in Carbondale.

Both artists’ galleries will close at the end of September.