Local artists shine in annual exhibitions at the Red Brick and Chapel Gallery
Two recently opened art exhibitions focus on Aspen-area artists and their most recent work, offering an informal survey of what’s new and who’s who on the local scene.
The Aspen Chapel Gallery’s 14th Annual Small Wonders Exhibition opened on November 17th. Among the city’s most popular art events, the exhibit challenges artists to create affordable works of art measuring no larger than 12 x 12 inches.
Each artist makes at least eight works for the show, and many are selling out as the show has become a staple for local holiday shopping – a rare, hyper-local, high-quality art exhibit in Aspen that kicks off the season. Christmas shopping here. This year’s performance features 32 local artists.
Following in the footsteps of the “little wonders” tradition, the Red Brick Center for the Arts began in 2019 to have its own holiday exhibit featuring the latest works by its 12 resident artists.
Four artists have worked in both exhibitions this year, including ceramicist Michael Bonds, who works in a Red Brick studio and co-directs the Chapel Gallery.
Bonds marveled at the combination of the two shows and the extent of local work they present.
“During the COVID period, everyone has diversified a lot,” Bonds said. “It really shows a lot of different work in these shows. And it’s fun to see all the different evolutions of all these artists. “
In both exhibits you can see different work by Bonds – who launches a new aspen leaf pattern on containers and plates at “Small Wonders” and shows a new series of red brick landscape tiles – and variations on Molly Peaccock’s abstract porcelain sculptures, as well as the latest haunting nature photographs from the great Art Burrows.
A Walk Through The Red Brick – which, when it opened in early November, hosted a party on its front porch for safe socializing over wine, hot chocolate and snacks as masked patrons perused the art at the interior – offers a fascinating sample of local artists and the new terrain they opened up during the pandemic.
You can lose yourself in the rich oil paintings and dreamlike landscapes of Nancy Kullgren, marvel at Liz Heller’s digitally crafted ceramics and her new collaborations with goldsmith Kate Flynn. There are new sterling silver belt buckles and mountain designs from famous jeweler Caitlin Dunn and beautiful still lifes by Lorraine Davis. There are the worlds and stories that emerge from Jessie Chaney’s incisive photographs of abandoned spaces like her “Gate to the Heart,” and a fascinating new series of collages by Michael McConnell.
His new pieces, which move away from the mixed pieces he has produced in recent years, signal a new urgency and an eye on history in the making. One representative work shows a series of footprints, as if they came from a dance guide, labeled “throw to the right” and “throw to the left” alongside a torn news clip from the January 2020 uprising in Washington, DC.
“Last year I feel like I produced a really cohesive body of work,” McConnell said at the opening. “I foresee that I would like to do more like this. “
And, as always at Red Brick, there are variations on landscapes and mountain sceneries, including new work by Tammie Lane and an in-depth exploration of aspens from painter Emily Chaplin, who joined the ranks of Red Brick for the pandemic as his painting hobby evolved into something more.
At the “Small Wonders” roundabout – which is made in partnership with the Adopt-a-family Holiday Baskets program (you can register to participate and donate in the gallery) – the gallery is full of new works as diverse as Surrealist paintings by Sheila Babbie, iconic woodcuts by Curt Carpenter and hanging ceramics by Louise Deroualle.
Want to know what’s going on in local art? Check out these two shows and you can see the latest from over 40 Aspen artists.