Walk upstairs in the Durango Arts Center and you’ll find an intimate, carefully observed exhibition by a mature artist. “My Beloved West” features 20 solar-plate prints and two artist’s books by Louise Grunewald, one of the Southwest’s most gifted practitioners.
Concurrently, the Fort Lewis College Art Gallery features works by seven graduating seniors in communication design. Packed with class projects, the space is filled with posters and branding schemes for real and imaginary clients, labels for wine and beer products, a few paintings, three-dimensional works and some free-floating whimsy – Matt Valdez’s Calderesque ski boot and Deryk Trujillo’s embroidered hoodie.
If possible, plan to view the two exhibits concurrently and think about the contrast between free-wheeling experimentation and a mature body of work that springs from a single inspiration.
Beginner’s luckThe student exhibit at FLC covers a lot of territory and contains many different class projects. Among the most interesting are Alexis Blosser’s posters and large street banner for a music festival in Washington state. Blosser combines stylized canyon shapes with an abstract rendering of sound signals to entice people to the outdoor festival. Blosser thoroughly merges text, image and symbols in a fresh design package.
Cassidy Brunson uses different design templates for her “clients,” delicate snowflakes with embedded books for the Brooklyn Book Fair, and whimsical montages for the 2020 Seattle Olympics.
Spencer Ashton has crafted an elegant oak wine chest surmounted by “Kumiko,” a clean, geometric wooden wall piece.
Kacey Diehl’s many projects illustrate a wide design vocabulary. A Constructivist-inspired poster recalls early 20th century Russian practice where intersecting diagonals create a dynamic composition. Diehl’s Downsider beer labels are sleek and contemporary, and “Tango” adds an elegant non-objective image to the show with an homage to abstract surrealist Juan Miro.
Carissa Hewitt presents a sales scheme for “Fitbit,” and in a small, saturated orange print titled “Remember When,” she offers a visual puzzle. Look long, and the image of an old dial phone may emerge. Maybe Hewitt will embark on a deeper investigation of this theme and create her own body of work.
Mature exploration In a short artist’s statement, Louise Grunewald describes what inspired her to begin a new series of prints and artist’s books. Apparently, while outdoors, she was struck by the beauty of a small blooming plant, a claret cup. Sketches, drawings and prints followed, and the small, red blossom eventually triggered a fascinating body of work titled “My Beloved West.”
You’ll see several iterations of the claret cup in Grunewald’s show of solar plates, some combined with beautifully rendered text, and also presented in an artist’s book. Note that some prints include silk as a surface, presumably to intensify the redness of red.
Grunewald’s project evolved and includes other imagery under the umbrella title: delicate closeups of aspen bark, abstractions of water and deserts. And in a second book, Grunewald uses exuberant design motifs through leaping lines and joyous color.
This is what it means to explore an art idea. This is what “a body of work” looks like, and for 20 years, the DAC Art Library has been the perfect place for such exhibits.
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.