Another semester, another round of student art shows. As usual, there's the good, the horrible and the charmingly amateur. But for a town that doesn't even have a full-blown vocational art school, and most definitely doesn't have any kind of graduate art studies, there is some truly great work coming out of University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado College and Pikes Peak Community College. Which perennially begs the questions: 1) Why don't the local colleges figure out how to start some genuinely comprehensive arts program? 2) Why don't all of these talented students get together and start their own art galleries here in town? Hmmm.
Here's a run down on some of the highlights from all three of the shows.
This year's talented stable of student artists at UCCS has obviously been well influenced by the University's cadre of talented teachers.
Bonnie Johnson's sensuous "Nude" series and Jillian Jacob's "Barriers" series, which depicts a young man proudly showing off his Nazi tattoos, both show the range of skills and vision absorbed from Professor Carol Dass and her darkroom alchemy.
Naomi Wagner seems to have an insatiable knack for cross-media experimentation. From her lovely "Moody Flowers" vase of matting sculpture to the radiantly introspective "Lapse of Memory" gum bichrome print, Wagner obviously aims to keep herself and her viewers interested in the subject of possibility.
The students of wood-sculptor Sean O'Meallie are also out in force. Jordan Kiper's wood "Teddy" with candy stripes has a surprising softness for the knotty medium. David Voth has ably expanded on the pop sculptural sensibilities of O'Meallie, and gets the Best Title award for his copper, aluminum and wood rocket ship called "Freudian Probe Module to the Fertile Crescent Moon of Uranus."
Most incredible of all, though, is Diana Converse's "Self Portrait": a pair of Converse tennis shoes rendered in handmade paper and acrylic paint. Painstakingly great!
While there isn't any real sense that this show was in any way juried (i.e. it seems that all students got to throw a piece up), there is some excellent craftwork coming out of our local community college.
Brandon McMenamin seems to have found a way to make a digital photograph look just like a Gerhard Richter painting with his erotic blur "Tantric Obsession."
Bonnie Bowen-Plye, Tara Saunder and Kate Orr all obviously discovered Claes Oldenburg last semester and fashioned some wonderful, rather gargantuan cigarette paraphernalia: matches, lighter, cigarette, and cigarette pack.
Yuriy Luzov took on the always daunting task of "nature assemblage" and came up with a perfectly spooky looking meditating guru fashioned from crab shell, fish bone, seeds and leaves.
"The Hive," a savagely detailed pencil drawing by Karl Savage, shows that some kids are still feelin' it and have an imagination to match.
Also worth noting are the many works by potters and jewelry makers in the show.
This year's senior art show at Colorado College's Coburn Gallery is a bit disappointing on the whole, but there are some gems.
Erin Malie Boll's large works on paper show the promise of a skilled artist who, perhaps, hasn't yet found the subject matter to match her skills.
Lea Golis, who recently had a one-night Senior art show at Phototroph Gallery, has definitely used her technical abilities, talent and vision to bring her photography far beyond the student level. If anything holds her work back it is a twinge of sentimentality and nostalgia in the look of her prints, but nothing unforgivable.
Also stunning for their design and execution are Alyse Richards' Chine coll etchings on paper. Richards used her father's running notebook as source material. Pulling poems, stats and race numbers, and juxtaposing them with trees and dark planes, Richard creates a touching yet unsentimental memorial.
Take the time to stop in at these galleries in the coming weeks and let these young artists know that the community supports them.
-- Noel Black