We set out to surround Valentines Day and the idea of “love” with a show that will encompass the whole month of February. We put out an open call to artists to submit images of their art that finished the phrase “Love and . . .” and had over a dozen artists respond. Their work is as varied as their answers to the 3 questions we recently posed to them:
1. What prompted the art you submitted for this gallery show? What was your inspiration?
2. How long have you been working with the type of art you submitted?
3. Tell us a little about yourself.
1. What prompted the art you submitted for this gallery show? What was your inspiration?
“Love and finding the perfect partner” is my painting of two sea otters from the Carmel area of California.
I also submitted a painting of owls. They are all babies and best friends. “Love and your best friends.” This was painted with a batik method of watercolor on rice paper.
2. How long have you been working with the type of art you submitted? 10 years
3. Tell us a little about yourself. I'm a retired from 20 plus years in Newspaper Marketing in three newspapers all over the West. I started in sculpture but turned to watercolor. I love the medium.
1. The inspiration for my painting was a photo I took of my 5-year-old grandson and his best friends at his birthday party.
2. I have been doing pastels for many years but seldom do people.
3. I am an 82-year-old artist that works in pastel and oil primarily. I also do some tapestry weaving.
1. My inspiration was a long-term love interest and the understanding of myself and others that I have derived/am deriving from the experience.
2. I have been making oil paintings on wood panels for about ten years, and I have been making drawings on antique music paper for about 7 years.
3. I am a self-taught artist, native to Colorado Springs. I love exploring different artistic styles and different mediums, which seem non-cohesive at the outset, but will eventually coalesce into a cohesive body of work. Sometimes it takes years for the pieces to fit themselves into place.
hear we go, from out of the blue, as deep as a metaphorical mirror, hello to you
...scents of inspiration, vintage two 'n' too!
paint with words, left to right, love of 'rite, soft and tight, 'rythmatic of script sculpture
the big picture plus...
in the oddest place, in the artist place
tonight, turning 'rite up yore alley in left field, oceanic mountainous clouds
the roof of you're cellar
from thirty-four into approximately seventy... thirty six years in a wilderness of golden would essence 'n' petrified woulds,
pondering the deeper significance of invisible by day in sight of night...
...retired after 19 years at CMHS, 2005
taught seniors psychology, sociology, gradually becoming psychosocial movement of hearty heady
grew up in NYC, came thru Ellis Island at the age of one, 1949
MA applied Economics, QC ... finished doctorate course work at SUNY at Stony Brook in theoretical Economics
hitched from London to Jerusalem, nine weeks
receiving teaching assistantships at both institutions
ten years of in tense karate training, 3 national team kata awards, junior instructor
invited to train in Japan, JKA for a summer
Columbia University for graduate work, a year of Sports Psychology, NLP
taught at NY Institute of Technology, Queensboro CC, George Washington HS (math)
thank you, dream well
Suzi’s work is described as “Love and Health and Beauty”
1. I was prompted to enter this gallery show because I create porcelain essential oil necklaces, which celebrate the heart and love. They are worn with love of self because they have a purpose. The necklaces are infused with thieves oil to promote good health, well-being and self-care. The necklaces are given with love to show affection for the recipient. They are beautiful and have the bonus of keeping the wearer feeling well. Whether giving the essential oil necklace as a gift or gifting it to yourself, you are showing love and joy.
2. I have been a ceramic artist since my first pottery class in 1973. Clay hooked me and I won’t let go. It is a sensuous media and brings me joy to work with it. I create my pieces by hand, fire it in a kiln then decorate each piece, making each ceramic creation a work of love.
3. I studied ceramics the first time I went to college in the 70’s. I had a minor degree in art and have always worked in it. I married, had a family and needed something to give us health insurance and to work towards a retirement so I joined the U.S. Navy in 1990. Fast forward twenty-three years and I had earned a retirement. My family was grown and I was a disabled veteran, though not enough to keep me from doing art. I took my G.I. Bill and went back to college, this time earning my Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in ceramics. I have been happily creating with clay since.
1. My Love of Nature and seeing how disrespectful people have become when caring for the environment in recent years, the quote about who this planet belongs to has been posted around my home for a long time. The photograph I took of a man holding his child pointing off into the distance/future sitting on the grass became something to play with digitally and place them in a more nature filled setting. This image then seemed to be the perfect illustration for that quote.
The other images were inspired by Shawn Gallaway's song "I Choose Love" that I have listened to for many years. The idea of the choice between Love or Fear; or Peace and War; Sunshine or a Storm; Laughter or Tears . . . the answer to all those questions is "I Choose Love." The pairing of dragonflies or black swans or a Squirrel with its hand on its heart inside a heart illustrates that choice for me.
2. I have been taking photos on my hikes or in gardens for most of my adult life. Started using them in wall art about 2 years ago and in my books for about 5 years. Sometimes I use them as they naturally appear, other times I play with them more in Photoshop to give them a more abstract or painted look.
3. I have had a respect and love of the natural world all of my life and became involved in the arts when I worked behind the scenes in theater in High School. In College I started working with fibers and going to art festivals and selling in galleries. I am mostly known for my feather masks and jewelry pieces. I began writing books about 5 years ago and they needed illustrations. Most of them are illustrated with my photographs, some I do find elsewhere. The photographic digital art was an easy progression to another level of art to play in with my Nature photos. Using them as they appear naturally works sometimes, but I "fell down a rabbit hole of creativity" and began to manipulate them in a graphic program in ways to add interest. Some feel like you are looking through a kaleidoscope or at a mandala, others are purely abstractions and all invite you to look deeper to find fantastic forms or creatures within each picture. The ones in this show have some manipulation to gain the effect of the focus creature offering love in some form or another to each other or the viewer.
For me, the theme “Love and…” immediately brought to mind—fabric! Fabric presents endless possibilities of color, pattern, texture, as well as cultural connections and family, personal and emotional ties. Fabric communicates, even without words.
I have been sewing for nearly 50 years, beginning with outdoor equipment kits and homemaking items. I am a past president of Piecing Partners Quilt Guild in Colorado Springs, and have participated in a number of shows through the years. I gravitate toward simple fabric combinations, in hopes of taking advantage of the materials to create something both pleasing and useful.
I grew up in Boulder, and graduated from Colorado College (1972). I worked in a clinical psychology office for many years, while my husband owned a construction company. We have two grown daughters and two grandsons, and have lived on Colorado Springs’ west side for over four decades.
I find the activity of designing and creating sewn items to be stimulating and calming at the same time – also addictive! Thanks for the opportunity to share some of my creations with you.
1. Being new to Colorado, I wanted to show my gratitude for our surrounding scenery here at the Front Range. Taking walks through these open spaces in nature is my inspiration. I fell in love with the contrast between the bold colors of the red rocks clashing against Colorado’s blue skies.
2. Within the last year, I have found an appreciation for the versatility of acrylics.
I began painting with oils almost a decade ago and for many years, I used watercolors to capture my traveling experiences into landscape paintings. This approach involves a gel medium retarder that slows down the drying process allowing me to treat parts of the painting like oils.
3. I grew up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania and spent most of my childhood exploring the outdoors. I attended Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a BFA in 2014. Three years prior, while in college, a collaborative camping trip with the Art and Geology Departments changed everything for me when we drove across the country in a van to South Dakota’s Badlands National Park. Traveling out West a total of four times since visiting the Badlands convinced me to move before my roots became too deep. During the summer of 2016, halfway in my twenties, I left home with my other half, Liv, and moved to Colorado Springs. After the first month of getting settled, we found our first dog to adopt, Fin. They make my life a whole lot better. I enjoy listening to music with a good beer and great company. You might see me at the dog park or at a local pub.
1. The photographs that I entered were part of the final project in the Photography II course at CSU-Pueblo. Students were required to enter 3 juried exhibitions, so when I found the information on "Love and....", I thought it would be a great way to show individual work. Art is all around us, but we pass by it every day without noticing because we don't stop, look up, look around, or take the time to appreciate the details and creations around us.
2. This is my second semester college course in photography, so I am new to this art form.
3. I was born in San Diego, California, and moved to Pueblo in 2000 at the age of five. I live with my parents and two dogs, and family is very important to me. I have always enjoyed drawing and have the dream to work in the animation industry. I am pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from CSU-Pueblo and enjoy learning and experiencing the various art forms. My favorite art form is drawing, but I have also enjoyed the courses in painting and ceramics. I also enjoy movies, Gundam models, Anime, and Marvel comics.
Laura Miller Maddox
Love and Reflection (digital photography on canvas)
My are is a meditation presented within a 2-dimensional space. Each digital image I create embodies a unique energy guided through the camera’s lens. “Love and Reflection” evokes memories of a lived past transcending time and space. I believe such memories become treasures of the heart.
Julia Wright is a long-time member of Commonwheel Artists Co-op, and our first Artist of the Month for 2018. That means that you get a 10% discount on Julia’s art during January 2018. (In-store purchases only.)
Julia will be part of a gallery show this March along with Jerry Rhodes and Ace McCaasland.
We asked Julia a few questions. Below are her responses.
Talk a little about yourself
Creating art in many forms has been the basis of my life starting with theater when I built sets and directed others in High School and college. I created macramé costumes for a traveling troupe and very unique wall pieces, in which incorporated found objects. Next, I began to weave natural and hand-dyed wools into some of the macramé pieces and built my version of an Indian Rug Loom to create abstract woven wall art. Feathers have always been part of my art creations. I created mandala style feather wall hangings, and then discovered the concept of making masks with feathers when Manitou held a Mardi Gras celebration many years ago. What fun that was and still is! Creating earrings, hair clips, and pendants was a natural progression to creating artful accessories using feathers and found objects.
I have taken thousands of photographs on my hikes and in many gardens. For about five years started using my realistic nature and other photos to illustrate my books and journals. And most recently, I began to use my realistic photographs to create different types of decks of cards for children and adults.
About 2 years ago, I “fell down a rabbit hole of creativity” using them to create abstract, kaleidoscopic and mandala style images by taking a little part of a Nature photo and playing with it in PhotoShop. Currently these can only be seen online and in gallery shows.
What does making art mean to you?
When I am in my studio or sitting at my computer, I get totally lost in the process and my imagination can run pretty wild thinking about how to take the materials at hand and create something totally unique and fun. It uplifts my spirit to honor the beauty of the feathers used in my masks and jewelry and glorify Nature in various artful ways.
I love watching people try to imagine how I went beyond what others did with fibers and feathers, and now photos when looking at my artwork. Working in my feather studio or on a computer or taking photos on my hikes always has my creative juices flowing. I am constantly looking for some new way to use the materials at hand to create a bit of awe and wonder when someone sees the finished art.
What inspires you in your art? (Are you currently exploring new themes, techniques, color palette, ideas, etc.?)
Relating to Feathers: Currently I am inspired to use up as many of the various unique types of feathers hanging around in my studio. Time to be a bit more adventurous when creating masks for Carnivale. For the holidays, including the upcoming Valentines Day, I created some larger pendants with some very fun shiny found objects to dress up even the simplest of dresses.
Relating to Photography: Nature is my most powerful inspiration. When hiking or passing a beautiful garden, I often stop to take in the amazingly beautiful natural creations that surround me. A driftwood stump or a rock formation or a bit of moss can be as enticing to my eye as a beautiful wildflower. Each one makes my heart sing and my spirit soar with joy when I take the time to really look at the beauty others pass by each day without noticing it.
I realize there are hundreds of people who take beautiful Nature photographs, so I wanted to do something a little bit different with mine. I really enjoy finding a hidden piece of a Nature photo to twist and turn into a totally unsuspected image. Watching people look deeply into the images and point out to friends what they see and get a conversation going about that image is a joy to watch.
The idea of using my Nature photos for card decks for children started with the idea of making Flash Cards, but morphed into something totally different. I have seen too many instances of how little respect people have for the natural world and can only hope that by showing how beautiful and fragile wildflowers can be starting with a card game that might inspire more kids to get out and search for them and find other reasons to respect their natural surroundings.
Walk us through your production process.
Relating to Feathers: Whether I am creating a feather mask or a piece of jewelry or a wall piece, I first need to clip all the down off the feathers I will be using. For the feather earrings, hairclips and especially for the pendants, I have to lay out the feathers to be sure they will conform to the proper shape. When using pheasant feathers with patterns, the patterns and coloration can change very quickly on each pelt, so I need to be careful to have enough of each pattern to finish a piece properly. I enjoy adding found objects to the pendants and sometimes to the hairclips to give them a bit more interest.
Masks are the most playful feathery creations I make. I believe that each one will find a face to cover and inspire the person wearing it to allow their inner child or alter ego to come out and dance and play in ways they normally wouldn’t think about doing unmasked. Manitou Springs has a Carnivale Celebration where people get into costume for the parade and playing all day. A FantaFaces mask is the perfect beginning, or ending for creating your costume for that fun day or any other masked event you might attend. (Ed. Note: Carnivale will be held on February 10, 2018.)
Relating to Photography: So, I take lots of pictures on a hike or in a garden, then sort through them to find which ones will work for which type of art project. Sitting at the computer, I will crop out extraneous objects for a book illustration or to use in a deck of cards. The real fun comes when I see a piece I want to play with to create a mandala or kaleidoscopic or abstract image. Each one of these can take hours and many twists and turns, and sometimes changes to the coloration, to get to the place I feel satisfied with the final image.
What emotions/reactions/thoughts do you want to cause/explore/achieve on the public looking at and buying your artwork?
Relating to Feathers: When someone puts on a mask, they are transformed. I have seen a dancer become a bird flitting around a crowded art festival or others take on a sinister stance and begin to sneak around the gallery. Almost everyone who puts on a mask connects to something deep inside himself or herself that wants to come out and play. Sometimes a mask will bring out a darker side to a person, but usually it brings out the child inside or some fantasy creature they long to become for a short time.
Relating to Photography, Books, and Cards: I want people to look deeply into each of the abstracted photographs using their imagination to discover images within them. I want people to use their imaginations and discover a myriad of images within each image. I enjoy asking if they can see the starting image or if it just all melts into one new piece of art.
The books I have written have very practical advice and have come from my own experiences. Essential Oils basically saved my life a couple of times. And seeing the huge amount of waste from the Commonwheel Art Festival diverted from the landfill each year is a joy to me, and all the volunteers who helped accomplish that. So, I created a book to help others learn how to recycle and compost at their events.
My journals are based on specific themes, but they are not just “blank books”. They have practical advice in the introductions and some photographs related to the journal’s subject. Each one has prompts for a person to fill in the blanks relating to that prompt. And there are extra pages to use to write more about their dreams or their hiking and camping adventures. Some have pages to sketch on or color in heart designs.
What is your recent favorite piece? And why?
Relating to Feathers: I love working with parrot and macaw feathers. They are so brilliantly colorful that they lend themselves to creating very dramatic masks. There is one that is all green feathers would make the perfect mask to create a costume such as Green Man or a garden fairy.
Relating to Photography: I have had lots of fun creating card decks using my nature photographs. The ones for children that have the names of Colorado Wildflowers and can be used to play games such as “Go Find a Wildflower” or “Memory” are my most favorite new works. I hope they will be used to get more children interacting with friends and family, while learning how to identify Colorado wildflowers. And perhaps inspire them to want to go hiking and step away from the TV and computer for a while to gain an appreciation for Nature and this beautiful planet they live on.
I think my most favorite photographic mandala is the tree standing on a rock proclaiming it will survive. Every time I see a tree growing out of a rock, I can relate to its determination to survive in the most challenging of conditions.
Where can we find your work: website, social media, local stores.
My books are also on Amazon
And then there is the Art Festival. I came to Manitou Springs in 1975 to participate in the Commonwheel Labor Day Art Festival. In January of 1976, I moved here and joined Commonwheel Artists Co-op. That summer I helped coordinate the three art festivals. By the end of that year, I was the main coordinator and have been for most of the following years.
Thankfully, we reduced the number of art festivals from three to just one. I helped these festivals change and grow, starting as we did as a group of hippies who loved and respected hand-crafted art, to a more businesslike venture. It has always only allowed artwork created and shown by the artists at the Art Festival. Local musicians play at the festival to add to the creative atmosphere. Over the last nine years, volunteers have worked hard to make it a very sustainable event by diverting up to 80% of its waste away from the landfill by sorting out compostable and recyclable items.
Each year the artwork displayed has become more and more exciting to see, making it the premiere art festival in the Pikes Peak region. I get to use my creative talents to create the ads for this event that often are brought by people looking to find the artwork of various artists being shown at the Art Festival.
by Leti Wesolowski
We put out a call for mandala-related art and our local artists stepped up to the challenge. The “Mandala” show currently in our gallery is the result.
17 artists brought in mandala-related art from diverse points of views and inspiration—from patterns of nature, symbols from different cultures, colors, and the practice of centering and meditation. The works explore multiple medias but all embody the concept of “mandala”: fused glass; watercolor; digital photography; bronze, silver, and copper; precious metal clays; mixed media; stained glass; laser-cut wood; hand stamped clay; polymer clay; engraved terracotta; vinyl records; color pencil drawings; and more.
We invite you to contemplate mandalas made by local artists and discover which one evokes feelings of peace, balance, unity and strength that resonate with you. Let them work their magic on your life and allow your mind to wander into the beauty of mandalas.
“Mandala” comes from a Sanskrit word that means “circle or disc”.
In art, mandala is often a symbolic pattern usually in the form of a circle within a square divided into four symmetric sections containing a unifying center from which geometric shapes and symbols radiate outwards.
“The mandala is an archetypal image whose occurrence is attested throughout the ages. It signifies the wholeness of the Self.” —Carl G. Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections
Embraced by many religions and cultures around the world, a mandala represents wholeness and the connection between inner self and outer reality.
“In Christianity, there are a number of sacred images and ritual invocations that use the circular shape to connect the spiritual realm with the earthly realm”, says figurative sculptor Marica Hefti. “The placement of divine beings, angelic figures, and holy personages at crucial positions within the circular (stained glass) windows (of Christian cathedrals) establishes the powerful storyline of Christian beliefs”.
Hindus were one of the first people to use mandalas as spiritual tools. Native Americans use mandalas as shields of good luck, prosperity, wealth and happiness. Buddhist monks create sand mandalas, a process that takes days to create, then sweep it and pour it into a river, to symbolize the never-ending cycle of life.
“A concept of new beginnings, forms of life itself” says Tracey Eastland when asked to explain what a mandala means to him.
Mandala is used in spiritual practices as a focal point for meditation, self-awareness, and healing.
For digital photographer Teri Rowan, a mandala is “meant to inspire meditation and introspection” or can be admired for just its beauty.
Metalsmith Kathleen Krucoff thinks a mandala is “a beautiful symbol to convey positive messages of encouragement and support”.
In art, mandala has become a generic term for any diagram, chart, or geometric pattern that represents the center of the universe, metaphysically or symbolically.
For Jewelry artist Connie Lorig, a mandala represents “a complex dance between unity and diversity, between the parts and the whole.”
For artist Sheila Hewlett, mandala means the continuity of life.
Commonwheel artist Julia Wright takes pictures of nature during her hikes and then edit them on her computer to create hypnotic mandalas.
Designing a mandala is a unique personal experience in which the individual lets the creative mind to run free and find the symphony of shapes, colors and patterns to represent their unique sense of self and view of reality.
Sculptor m.jo hart says “mandalas represent the process and meditation involved in creating her work”, which is focused on women’s issues, unique stories and experiences.
Mandalas can be created by individuals to symbolize their journeys through life, their state of mind or to tell their personal story.
Some of our artists got inspired by Celtic art, such as lampwork artists Jon Murray and Amanda Shotts who incorporate in their mandala barrettes “a circular pattern that has no beginning and no ending, signifying infinity of love!”
Or Glass artist Sabine Wachs who “was drawn to the Celtic spiral mandalas used as symbols of the sun powering all life”.
Jeweler Mary Cowdery got inspired by the yin-yang symbol, repetition and balance.
Artist Ray Jordan loves bright whimsical colors. His biggest inspiration is combining bright colors with his love of painting, drawing and cutting wood.
Kendrick Cowdery has a strong desire to maintain peace in his life. His handmade mandala lamp is built on mat board using a laser cutter and colorful translucent paper.
Several artists took it as a chance to explore new themes and materials, such as mosaic artist Juanita Canzoneri who jumped at the opportunity to play with alcohol inks and raid her stash of stained glass. She found that, during the process, mos of her work reminded her of an art form from her childhood in eastern Pennsylvania.
Others worked in new themes with their primary media, such as potter Jennifer Hanson who creates mandalas on her clay dishes with different hand stamps.
Or illustrator and mixed media artist Kelly Green who finds that vinyl albums automatically lend themselves to the mandala format.
Creating a mandala can be an enriching personal experience. To draw a mandala, one starts by “drawing the circle, setting an intention, centering through a meditation, usually start at the “bindu” sacred center and follow inspiration that comes” explains Mandala instructor Anne Roe. She sees mandalas “as “windows to the soul”, sacred circles and opportunities for the soulful self to express authentically”.
Sometimes mandalas are created to evoke feelings of peace and contentment on the observer. Kathleen Krucoff, for example, wanted her pieces to “help the wearer feel empowered” focusing in tranquility and strength. Ray Jordan wanted to “bring a smile to the art viewer mind and make them think”.
Opening Reception Friday, April 15, 5—8 pm
April 15 to May 16, 2016
Commonwheel Artists Co-op invites you to free yourself from your comfort zone and open yourself to creativity!
We’re offering a place to explore new ideas in personal adornment and innovative home décor items, providing a sensory delight for our art loving customers. Why not display an exotic pendant on a beautiful ceramic sculpture when it is not hanging around your neck? Why not showcase a gorgeous ring or bracelet in an evocative shadow box? Why not exhibit a dazzling showpiece within an embellished painting?
Our next gallery show, “Dare to Express,” will playfully provide you with interesting ways to incorporate wearable art into your home décor and innovative displays to showcase your beloved jewelry pieces.
On April 15th join us for our gallery opening reception and get a chance to meet in person the creative masterminds behind this one-of-a-kind show, while tasting hors d'oeuvres and enjoying Colorado Bluegrass music.