A pparently, there's still gold in them thar hills. The Fine Arts Center's latest installment of Something New suggests that veins of arts gold still can be found despite the bust of Pikes Peak's bygone culture rush.
A legacy of former FAC President David Turner, Something New was created seven years ago as an annual event to highlight the work of contemporary artists working in the Pikes Peak Region.
After Turner left his position at the FAC in January for a directorship at the University of Oregon, local sculptor and teacher Sean O'Meallie stepped in to guest-curate the exhibit that features painter Rita Zimmerman, mixed-media artist Bill Cummins and multi-media sculptor Daniel Raffin.
With an aggressive brushstroke and a palette of earth-hewn colors that ground the work in a kinetic quietness, Rita Zimmerman turns portraiture into a vehicle for personal reflection.
"I carefully search for models whose features or expressions reflect my own feelings. And when I find the right model, it excites an urgent need to paint," noted Zimmerman in her artist's statement of her subjects, which include the faces of animals and teenage boys.
If Zimmerman's paintings draw you in from the outside, Cummins' mixed-media works turn the inside out.
Working with collage, drawing and wintergreen transfer, Cummins -- a retiree from New York City's advertising world -- is interested in the process of transforming found images into conduits for his own imagination.
"I try to have images changing into other images -- images where each person would see something different," said Cummins, who cites the fantastical 15th and 16th century paintings of Hieronymous Bosch as his primary influence.
It's no surprise, then, that Cummins' work is filled with goblins, demons, delightfully tortured souls and other fiendish figures in a lattice of interconnection.
Raffin, the third artist in the trio at this year's Something New, has created and extended his meditation on the siren call of art and music in his work "Mare Incognitum."
Onto what appear to be two old, spiral-shaped tin speakers that sit on the floor like large metallic ram's horns, Raffin attached two glass screens. These screens show the projection of two separate videos: one of a woman's face (singer Zina Mercil) as she sings a Mexican folk song and the other of her ear as she listens to the song.
With the two cochlear-shaped pieces facing each other, the multitude of meaningful permutations begin to reveal themselves. The tubes, said Raffin, become ears, or seashells, or ram's horns used for ritual calls. The woman is both the siren and the seduced, as is the viewer.
Raffin also has spent several months installing matrices of blue plastic waves around the FAC in the most inconspicuous places to add to the liquid allure of his piece, and gallery-goers will have to be on the lookout for them.
Though there is no overt connection between the artists, O'Meallie said that as he was hanging the works he began to feel that what all three artists share is "immersion."
"These three artists employ physicality -- theirs and ours -- to communicate their ideas," said O'Meallie in his summation of the exhibit. "Perhaps any true appreciation of an artist's work requires that we submit to being immersed in their world."
-- Noel Black
Something New: Contemporary Regional Artists
Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St., 634-5581
Admission $2-$5; free to members and free to all on Saturdays
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 - 5 p.m.
Opening Reception Friday, June 20, 6 7:30 p.m.
Show runs through August 31