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Below the Surface

June 1, 2015

All last week, usually dry Cottonwood Gulch east of Tenderfoot continued to flow despite little additional rain. It was beautiful to see and hear. Whereas the gulch beside Ute Trail was running clear, Cottonwood was latte-brown.

In several places, though, the muddy water would saturate the ground and then reappear further down as a clean clear trickle, which would eventually join the main flow again.

It was such a fresh thing to see. The earth used to do this a lot more for us—serve as a filter and provide clean water.

I can still recall the effect of reading in “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey a sad scene in which he describes an exquisite natural hanging garden growing around a similar clear trickle from the sandstone wall of the canyon—sad because it was one of many beautiful things about to be submerged under Lake Powell.

What goes on below the surface of the earth is changing these days. I wonder if that’s true for people? To find out, we challenged artists, writers, and poets to create a show for the library around the theme “Below the Surface.”

Of course there are more entries than I can discuss here, but suffice it to say the theme is well addressed. It is truly a multi-media show. The first piece, “Innocence” by Donna Wagle, epitomizes the variety of materials found in the show. Her piece is constructed of wood, acrylic, nails, beads, and rubber ducky.

Juliette Loquidis’s “Valley Sonata” is a painting of newsprint and acrylic. William McIntire’s “Stockton Street” is made of acrylic, Thai and Kinwashi paper, and digital photography. Ted Fish’s “Emerging” is acrylic on canvas with ceramic.

And that just gets you to the top of the stairs. There’s one piece to the left in the corner cubbyhole—“Subterranian” by Russel March—made of Drala, Nyingje, and Ziji.

To the right you’ll find poetry, an essay, and multi-media galore, such as Fay Golson’s “Mirage” composed of graphite, oil stick, colored pencil, and drywall tape on mylar. Or Sally Mather’s “Last Romance” with acrylic, love letters, and photo transfers.

Perhaps the theme invites multi-media collage in which various materials are layered. There is ultimately a surface, but things show through or are implied. Frances Cripps’s “Overwhelmed” has an intriguing layered background and the person in the portrait has interesting hair. I keep thinking I know her.

Then there are more obviously three-dimensional constructs such as Rich Tyler’s “Yes & Or” and/or Hannelore Gabriel’s sculptural “Colors of Injustice.” And a shelf near the magazine aisle houses other sculptures, one of them with express instructions to touch.

There are many more pieces, about thirty in all. The show is rich in wit and insight. And questions. A peek below the surface usually begins with a question: “What’s underneath there?”

So while the artists considered this question, I sometimes find myself wondering about the artists—“What’s going on in there?” The challenge theme is broad, but it’s still a theme. We asked people to address a concept, even though not all art is conceptual. Some art is just experience about which not much can be said.

But I can say you’ll enjoy the experience of this show. Many thanks to everyone participating. This annual challenge show is our offering for Art Walk, but you can see it now at your leisure.

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