From the cusp of her dreams, painter and Colorado native Lara Branca has returned to Dolores to display her latest work
in her first Colorado show.
I've been fascinated for a long time with perception and with the nonlinear, nonverbal way we function," she said.
You wake up in the morning and you try to remember a dream. It's a universal human experience. I want to try to tap
Branca said dream images - a horse, a darkened staircase, an angel - can be both universal and also have different
meanings depending on the person. In her paintings she attempts to unify the fragments of the dream."
You wonder how you have one element and another element together in a dream - how did my brain do that and why did I
put it together like that," she said. I try to approach that with visual imagery. Whether it triggers a connection
with (the viewer's) own symbols is up to them."
For her latest series of paintings, Branca paid attention to what dream images she responded to, along with using
drawings from her past.
I'm interested in the convergence of memory and present experience and how the two overlap," she said.
An example of this intersection is in her self-portrait, to be displayed in the show.
I did an art study, a sketch of a 13th century monastery in Italy back in college," she said. It was one of those
places that loomed large in my mind with really crazy architecture and long tunnels."
Branca features the monastery and a woman figure looking out the window with deer rushing past her, guiding and
breaking around the figure, like wild, animal energy breaking around a rock in a river," she said.
Depicting symbols and images from her dreams is a step beyond her last series of paintings, which revolved around
Flamenco dance, another passion Branca studied.
While Branca attended the Portland Center of Performing Arts in 2007, she not only trained, studied and performed, but
also exhibited an installation of her paintings depicting flamenco dance at the center.
Branca said even the art of flamenco has been influenced by the sounds of thundering hooves" and continuing rolling
rhythm" of running horses. This same primal, spiritual connection between animals and humans has carried over into her
most recent show.
The 34-year-old oil painter said inspiration has always come easily to her.
I draw a line and I get interested in it, and it becomes something else and I let my creativity work that way," she
said. I have doodles I've saved from as far back as high school."
Branca, born in Denver and raised in its eastern suburb of Overland, eventually graduated from Fort Lewis College. She
also studied sculpture as part of her fine art degree. But it was love at first sight when someone handed her a set of
Bob Ross oil paints as a child.
I am kind of smitten with oils," she said. They have almost a sculptural quality. They're really sensuous because
they don't dry right away. You have to coax them; otherwise, you end up with a muddy mess."
Her studies took her as far away as Italy, Crete and France, but most recently, as near as Mancos and Dolores.
The community is great here," she said. Everyone is trying to start things and support each other. Take Heather
(Narwid, owner of the Sideshow Emporium & Gallery in Dolores): she's created an arts hub in the community."
Branca just returned from Santa Fe, where she lived for six months, painting the majority of the show, before deciding
to return home to Dolores.
I'm done trying to struggle and live other places," she said. I moved to Santa Fe, and I felt hemmed in by the city.
All I wanted was the quiet and the community. I love the country and the light and the weather. It's definitely