One step into "Deb's World," and you'll feel as though you've climbed into a vibrant Southwestern dream. Through layers of oil on canvas, local artist Deb Komitor brings life to both fantasy and the familiar.
Mountains tower over red rocks. Turquoise rivers amble by boulders and balls of shrub. Bright hues of sienna, purple and blue sweep around the canvas, shifting day into night. And then, a raven eyeballs you from a corner, challenging you to join him.
All of it is imaginative, and animates a lively soul.
At Komitor's upcoming Where Spirits Soar show at Pueblo's Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center, nine large-format canvases share a personal tale of exploration.
"It's about where my spirit has taken me in the last couple years," she says. "Learning to get back to those feelings of the wonder of a child. Getting back that wonder of life."
The 51-year-old painter and sculptor adds that with all the turmoil in the world, she's consciously chosen to work and live in a place of joy. To her, that's what this show sums up.
"We don't have to be in that place of fear. That if we look around, you know, Pikes Peak is still there. It's still strong. It'll still be strong. No matter if you can fill your tank with gas this week or not although it has gotten cheaper," she says, laughing.
Komitor's journey also provides a journey for those who view her paintings. She likes people to walk right into her work. To make that easier, she adds trails throughout her paintings. While you're there, she says, you might as well hike around.
As esoteric as this might sound, it has roots in a very concrete place.
"I think part of that, my mom's always been handicapped," Komitor says. "And I think about her and other people that I know that can't walk. And I like the idea that they can still take a hike they can take a hike in their mind and in their imagination."
Komitor has always been a storyteller. She says that even when she was in college, her works weren't just landscapes: "Even in my 20s and 30s, I remember painting a lot of little trees, and I would always think that at night, I just knew they would all become animated and they'd all change places and have little meetings or dances. And then when the sun came up, they'd all go back to their spots. So I always think of things as being animated."
This time, they're animated in a big way, on 30-by-40-inch canvases. Komitor hasn't painted this large in many years the bigger the pieces, the harder they are to transport and to find places to hang but doing them now felt right.
"You just do [all these big paintings]," she says. "You don't think about why or where they're going."
And that, perhaps, is the best journey of all.