Open Studio Tour Splits Venue

Barbara Lawlor

Boulder Public Library’s Canyon Gallery

Marie ChannerIn a time when many planned events were cancelled or postponed because of September’s historic flood, the annual Boulder County Open Studio Tour decided to stick to the scheduled dates but change the venue for the Magnolia Road artists. Usually the tour involves visiting each artist’s studio, often located in their homes.

This year, many of the easier accesses to Magnolia Road studios were filled with sinkholes, mud and axle-killing washboards. Open Studio Tour organizers arranged for a space on the corner of 28th Street and Canyon Boulevard in Boulder for flood-impacted residents to show their work in one cozy location.

Although most of the displaced artists would have preferred staying at home and greeting visitors, after two weekends of meeting many other artists and art patrons they would have in the mountains, they enjoyed their stay in the city.

After the first week, when the waters receded and the roads were repaired, they could have brought their work back up to the mountains but decided they may as well as stick it out in their Boulder venue and were grateful to the organizers for arranging the facility.

Marlyn CheshesThose who stayed in the mountains were Nederland residents Marlyn Cheshes and Marie Channer. Marlyn is a sculptor/photographer whose prolific work has been incorporated into her Mud Lake Subdivision home and yard. Her latest project is a beautiful but eerie display of Alice in Wonderland characters who lurk amongst the trees and rise up out of their dead leaf and pine needle cover.
Marlyn describes the work as found object sculptures, all of the pieces eitherMarlyn Cheshes vintage or antique. The white rabbit is constructed of bronze pipes, an old alarm clock snugged into branches and white gloves. Alice is a haunting piece of art, created in such a way that her antique doll face seems to be floating above her computer dial chest. She stares upward in an other-worldly that would startle anyone not prepared to see her.

The Big Dog and the Cheshire cat are equally as compelling in their innocent but mysterious presence. On the deck, in the hallways, all throughout the house, there are bronze sculptures representing events during the holocaust which include portions of actual photographs taken during the Holocaust and of Marlyn’s own photographs.

She says, “I have engaged in this project because I believe it important we never forget the horrors of genocide. We know from events in Rwanda and more recently in Darfur in the Sudan that it can happen again.”

A tour through the Cheshes household reveals the evolution of the artist and the impressive range of collaboration between history and her photographic talent and the epic stories that emerge within the walls of her home.

Marie Channer lives in Big Springs where she has set up the studio from which hasMarie Channer bloomed work that has received recognition all over the country. Her vividly dramatic paintings of dancers, horses and poignant moments in people’s lives have impacted most everyone who sees her work. Their usual reaction is to stop and look deep into the painting, in awe of the emotions that swirl around the light and shadow, the depth of the darkness making eyelashes stand out, limbs graceful and naked in the light.

The Channer home is filled with Marie’s work and also with the cards and prints of her originals that she has for sale. The $2 cards are worthy of being framed, the $25 framed prints a stunning piece in any home. Marie’s portrait of a dancer, seen from above, won the Best of the Show in the Open Studio Tour and is on display at the entrance to the Boulder Public Library.

Now that the Canyon is open, the trip to view the other Nederland area artists was a piece of cake, with exquisite frosting. The temporary studio is at the hub of Boulder’s business section and the artists enjoyed the steady stream of art patrons.

Vivian Long of Pine Glade Road is the first artist one notices. She has a corner of the store front and visitors are greeted by the Papillon woman, lit from within, and created with a chicken wire form modeled by her own body.

On the walls are her multi-media nude series, each of which are just as seductive as the next. Vivian also exhibits a dream series, which has images from her dreams of her father and a window and door series that explore the textures, colors and emotions that can be found in these everyday but unique structures.

A sculpture of a woman showering from a waterfall has been carved from a single piece of wood, even the frogs that share her moment of peace, have sprung from the wood itself. Vivian says she enjoyed her stay in the city. “It was a different experience. I liked being with the other artists and meeting many people. During slow time we talked with each other and enjoyed learning about their art.”

Magnolia Road artist Marilyn Pinaud looked at her strong bright paintings of redMARLYN AND PICTURE.jpg fruit with yellow paint dripping down in squiggly patterns and said that she has been having a ball with acrylics. “The colors are so exciting to me. When I saw what the dripping paint looked like, I decided to incorporate the drips into the painting.”

Marilyn has been an artist all her life, was an art major in college and has been a member of the Colorado Watercolor Society. She grew up painting in the East but says she found more opportunities to show her work in the west. “It was great to get the exposure we found down here. And I didn’t have to clean my house.”

Magnolia artist Steve Homsher says he has always been enchanted with light which is a gift, an ever-changing source of inspiration. He shows his gratitude through painting. After attending the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, he spent six months in residency in Barcelona, Spain. He has come back to his roots as a figurative artist with strongly lit forms. “Realism with a vent.” he describes his work, which is a display of paint horses and landscapes. His daughter Quinn was able to spend the day with her dad, talking to people in the city.

“My painting totally just came to me, no outside influence. They come from myDavid Bahr soul,” says Magnolia Road artist David Bahr, who has a passion for capturing the close-up life of nature. He has been an Artist in Residence at Glacier Bay National Park and the Boulder County Open Space Artist in Residence. His award winning photography has appeard in nDefenders of Wildlife magazine, the National Wildlife Federation and the Smithsonian Institute.

David BahrCapturing the myriad colors of grass David’s series in the Studio Tour takes a look at what one can find in ordinary grass stalks when the light is right and the eye sees it.

Rich Hurst paints mischief into his quasi-surreal story-telling, which he hascowboy artist.jpg worked on for over 40 years. His paintings make one laugh out loud. Take for instance the picture of a cowboy on a toilet seat, his jeans around his ankles, a beer in one hand, a cigarette in the other and a pair of bright red French bikini panties peeking out from the zipper. It is so real it looks like a photograph.
A self-portrait reveals his passions as the person on top of a Harley has a bunch of paintbrushes stuck into his boot. He says this goes back to his slavish ode to youth. “I like the play on Western Art,” says Rich. “We all keep secrets. My paintings all have meaning, have stories.” Hurst’s degrees, AA, BFA and MBA were earned in Saratoga, California and CU.

It was a huge two weeks for these Nederland artists as they had a chance to show their work in more intimate settings and actually talk about it to those who had so many questions. The Open Studio Tour takes place every fall. In its 18th year, the tour featured 135 Boulder artists. It partners with the Boulder Public Library’s Canyon Gallery and grows every year, presenting the best of Boulder artists.

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.