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Original web series Beyond the Gallery chips away at the stories beneath the paint 

Behind the brushstroke

Fall Arts Preview

The opening shot is of a careful man. William Haskell, a dry-brush watercolor painter, sits in his studio in Santa Fe, N.M. His brown hair is combed back, not a single rogue strand in sight. His salt-and-pepper beard is neatly cropped. His speech is slow, thoughtful.

Looking just right of the camera, he says, "You need to give whatever you're doing a soul. That's the part of being an artist: You could be the greatest technician on earth ... but the fact is — the part that really makes it a piece of art — is your ability to give it a soul."

So opens the third episode of Beyond the Gallery's first season. The web series, created by Zach Wolfson, 28, of Colorado Springs, aims to step back from the visual art and the gallery and into the stories, processes and creative space of artists across the country.

"You have these two different worlds," Wolfson says. "You have the tech and you have the art. I thought, how cool would it be to give more people in the art communities that experience of hearing directly from the artist?"

Wolfson's production company, ZWFILM, has focused primarily on commercial clients since its start in 2008. But after Wolfson developed an affinity for video podcasts, he began brainstorming ideas for a web-based show. In order to house his creative personal projects, he established Infusion5, through which he directs and produces Local Infusion, a show about businesses in the Pikes Peak region, as well as Beyond the Gallery, born in 2010.

Wolfson says every episode takes two weeks to complete. The first week is devoted to research on the artist and location, with video chats over Skype with the subject to flesh out the story. After that, Wolfson, who filmed the first season completely by himself, spends one day shooting. The rest of the second week is spent editing the video with a small crew.

The first season consisted of 12 episodes, each spotlighting a different artist and medium. Artists came to his attention through Facebook advertising, referrals from other artists, and a thorough search for popular artists active online.

Local Pat Musick has shared her enamel work (below), and Paonia sculptor Jim Agius has been featured as well. Regional galleries that displayed artwork by the subjects of the episodes sponsored the series.

While the first season featured artists from Colorado and New Mexico, the second will span from California to New York and stretch to 16 episodes. Currently, 12 artists are confirmed, including Denver's Robin Cole Smith. However, Season 2 will take longer than expected to get going, due to an unfulfilled Kickstarter campaign in August. Wolfson is looking into grants and creating sponsorship packages to fund it; he hopes to launch later this fall.

Money issues aside, Wolfson hopes he's spreading the creative spirit. It's certainly strengthened and changed his work behind the camera.

"The most rewarding thing I've found is to spend a day with all these amazing, talented artists," he says. "Pick their brains about how they got started, how they work; then I look at my own work and try to align it with theirs."

scene@csindy.com

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  • Behind the brushstroke

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