Work downtown? Looking for a thoroughly enjoyable, absolutely free, and even moderately elevating way to while away part of your lunch hour? Drop by PPCC's Studio Gallery and take in the current show, Panoply -- you won't be disappointed.
Panoply features the highly accomplished, if very different, works of three local artists: Jeanne Steiner, Paul Rogers and Susan Hinton.
If you follow local art, artisans and artists even casually, you'll be familiar with Steiner and Rogers, both of whom have been exhibiting/working in Colorado Springs for over a decade. They're accomplished, mature artists, absolutely in command of their chosen media.
Steiner's weavings are typically multi-layered, incorporating colored paper, and even small watercolors. And you know that they're just as she intends them to be; she's been weaving for 31 years -- she knows what her materials can and cannot do.
Often, she'll create rhythmic, subtly repeating patterns, which integrate the works into harmonious wholes. I particularly liked her "Black Double-Weave with Paper Strips," a piece that manages to be both coldly formal and, thanks to its interwoven strips of colored paper, warm and loose -- kind of like a fire on a sheet of black ice.
Paul Rogers, unlike most sculptors, moves easily from ceramics to welded steel to bronze, not to mention hybrids of any two. He tries, with some success, to create images that recall the deep past, echoes from Jung's collective unconsciousness. "Migration," a cast bronze grouping of strangely familiar, dreamlike beasts, for example, brilliantly evokes either a half-remembered past or an imagined future.
Susan Hinton, Panoply's third artist, is a watercolorist who has only been working in the medium since 1997. She's not exactly a newcomer to the arts, having earned a B.A. in Art with an emphasis on oil painting from Lewis and Clark in 1968.
For a relative newcomer, a self-declared amateur, Hinton's work is simply astonishing. She's gotta be the poster child for everyone who has ever thought, "I've know I've got some talent ... some day I'm gonna paint/sculpt/design a house/weave/write the Great American Novel." Her work is amazingly fluid, facile, and sometimes extraordinarily moving.
Most watercolorists are fine at landscapes, not so fine at depicting the human face/figure. As a medium, watercolor is difficult to correct or alter, and, especially in our dry climate, notably unforgiving. Human faces are both very specific and very changeable; you have to get it just right -- unlike, say, a sunset, where no one's gonna tell you that no, that particular shade of orange just wasn't there on that particular day.
So take a look at Hinton's portraits, every one of which is impeccable, even spectacular. "Joshua," for example, a portrait of a child stretched out on a daybed with sun streaming through a pair of windows, and making patterns on a colorful bedspread, is close to perfection. The child's face is masterfully rendered, as is the room, its furniture, and the play of light and shadow throughout. Strangely, her landscapes, three of which are on display, are somewhat thin and tentative, although perfectly competent.
So there you have it; one medium-sized gallery, three fine artists, each represented by a dozen or so works -- a perfect nooner for the downtown crowd, and well worth the drive for anyone else.