For years, Monique Viger ran trails around Colorado Springs. She was raising a family and working as a hairstylist, but she wanted to return to the dabbling and doodling, as she called it, that she did as a child.
"I didn't know how to start anything," the 48-year-old says today. "I would become anxious and couldn't do anything. I didn't [even] know any other artists."
Four years back, she stumbled across Brett Andrus and The Modbo on a First Friday; after taking a card about the classes the gallery co-owner offered, she signed up. Viger was one of Andrus' first students, and learned quickly. More than that, she developed a unique style and an ability to toe the line between representation and abstraction. Andrus pushed her, and soon she was serious enough to prepare for an exhibit. Not bad for a late bloomer.
Viger focuses on the play of light, often in thickets of trees she observed on her trail runs. Her take? A peaceful grove awash in afternoon sunlight dissolving into daubs of paint. There's movement — the aspens quake, the shimmering light blurring as if you were squinting at it. Viger doesn't paint en plein air, either. She takes photos to work from, and they often help her identify overexposed elements to play with.
Three solo shows later, Viger is at the point where she's seeing a major transition in her work — hence the title of her new show, opening Friday at the Modbo. She's zooming out on those tree details, and expanding her subject matter to figures. In "There You Are" (pictured), she's working with artificial forms of light, as seen from the wet window of a passing car on a rainy night, the streetlamp glare smeared across the windshield.
"I'm more and more fascinated by forms viewed through the interaction between light and particles in the atmosphere," she says, "... be it snow or rain or dust, or even heat. So when you look across, from a distance, that image becomes somewhat blurred or hazy ...
"I'm always just staring up. I'm looking into the trees, you know when light shines through? Or on anything, over water. It just fascinates me."