‘About Light’ is without borders

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald “Another Time,” a pit-fired ceramic work by Ann Friedman, is one of the Durango artist’s contributions to “About Light” at the Durango Arts Center.

By Ted Holteen Herald staff writer

I had to double-check the title of a painting Monday while finishing my assessment of “About Light” at the Durango Arts Center. That gave me the opportunity to re-examine the exhibit in silence and semi-darkness as the Barbara Conrad Gallery forfeits Monday hours to stay open on Saturdays.

Having attended Friday’s opening with the crowd and hullabaloo that surround such events,

I was a bit ambivalent about the three-artist show. The works of complementary painters Cynthia DeBolt and Caroline Reeves Johnson and the ceramics and pottery of Ann Friedman – Durango artists all – made for a very nice show. Nothing too exciting, but nice.

In this case, however, even two is a crowd. During my brief but solo return to the gallery, I found the whole environment incredibly peaceful. If there’s one recommendation I can make, and make no mistake that this simple yet beautiful display comes highly recommended, it’s that it should be seen in the same quiet and solitude as I had. I’m not saying you should break in and enter the Arts Center after hours – in fact, I’ll go so far as to say don’t do that – but choose your time wisely and make it a meditative visit.

For example, if today’s election results, for whatever reason, give your blood pressure a spike, an hour or so in the gallery is a fine way to just ... calm ... down.

The painting styles of Johnson and DeBolt, whose work can be seen year-round at Sorrel Sky Gallery, are similar. Both are clearly influenced by the work of the German-American painter Wolf Kahn, and both are former students of his as well.

The landscapes at first have pastoral simplicity about them but on further inspection they’re much more sophisticated than that. The subdued colors add to the overall soothing effect.

The ceramicist Friedman is a St. Louis native who made her way to Durango via San Francisco and Silverton. The DAC show marks her return to professional art after a 10-year hiatus and her skills don’t seem to have suffered from the time off.

Ironically, this simple show provides a high-tech first for the Arts Center. Each painting or piece is accompanied by a QR code that allows smartphone users to see the image and title or the entire exhibition. The codes were provided by Todd Bartz and Josh Tischer of the Durango Tech Group, a loose affiliation of really smart people in town who do things like make QR codes and mobile web sites for fun. Bartz did the tech work for “About Light” on a pro bono basis.

Member John Skowlund attended Friday’s opening and showed what the technology can do for future exhibits. A quick scan of the right QR code and the entire exhibit, with photos and titles of each piece, scrolled by on Skowlund’s phone, perfectly sized for the small screen.

“This really creates an extension of the exhibit, obviously, but I think it’s really a piece of technology that can help attract a younger crowd to these kinds of events,” Skowlund said.


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