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Park Ave. gallery specializes in local

Stewart Oksenhorn

The location of 112 Park Ave., #6, local artist Keith Webster’s first stab at operating a contemporary art gallery, is far from an obvious one. Not only is the gallery some 15 miles downvalley from the tourist center of Aspen, but it is in an industrial strip of the Basalt Business Center.Webster doesn’t mind the address so much; in fact, he’s using it as the name of the gallery. He doesn’t figure to cater so much to the collectors looking for blue-chip artists anyway. And unlike the real estate agents and their mantra of “location, location, location,” Webster is guided more by the artists’ credo of “space, space, space.””My studio is across the street, and I was using the space to hang my own art,” said the 51-year-old Webster, a six-year resident of the Roaring Fork Valley. “The more I hung, the more it looked like it would make a great gallery space. The lighting is great.”Webster began talking to several artist acquaintances, and one by one Aspen artists like Craig O’Brien and Lloyd Shermer opted to follow Webster downvalley.112 Park Ave., #6 opens tonight with a reception from 6-8 p.m. The opening exhibit will feature some 20 works, including prints by Shermer, paintings by Dása Bausová, ink sumi drawings by Bayard Hollins, oil and gold leaf paintings by Thea Bent, and prints by the likes of David Salle and Aaron Fink made in conjunction with O’Brien.Also featured will be Webster’s own work. The artist takes his cue from early 20th-century Russian artist Kasmir Malevich, who developed a style called suprematism, a forerunner of minimalism. Suprematism involves minimalist geometric patterns on a neutral foreground.”I’ve taken it a little further than that and made the foreground like a bas-relief, with sculptural-type patterns within that,” said Webster, an Air Force brat who began studying at an atelier at the age of 9. “From an artistic standpoint, you have to feel the raw basis of the color and patterns. It’s very simplistic, reductionist. You have to see it and feel it.”Apart from the ideal space, Webster was inspired to open the gallery by the local talent he saw around him.”One of the things that has baffled me is why there isn’t a greater amount of showing of these people in local galleries,” said Webster, who kept a studio in the Red Brick Center for the Arts for several years. Webster is intent on showing the sort of art that hasn’t been so welcomed in Aspen’s galleries. “It’s edgy work. Collectors here go to New York and Los Angeles to buy contemporary art. I’m trying to give the local talent that’s not so commercially acceptable to local buyers a place to show.”112 Park Ave., #6 can be reached at 927-7610.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com


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