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Wishin’ it were spring

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By John Werenko

There is an old children’s doggerel verse that goes something like this, “Spring has sprung; the grass is riz, I wonder where the birdies is!”  With the winter weather still upon us this humorous verse is apropos. To overcome any snow fatigue, the Art Center at Fuller Lodge has an antidote. From 5-7 p.m. Friday, an exhibit opens titled, “Let’s Celebrate Spring.” The show lives up to its name with a riot of color and flowers.

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The seasons of the year have always been a favorite subject for artists. The French Impressionists, in particular Claude Monet, would paint the seasons in their glorious splendor, in some cases at different hours of the day from sunrise to sunset and into the evening. The word impressionism was coined by a Parisian art critic as a term of derision and was taken from a painting by Monet, “Impression Mist.” It is a sunset over the river Thames in autumn. His serialized images of haystacks were also painted in each of the seasons of the year.

“Let’s Celebrate Spring” is comprised of artists from Los Alamos as well as from two regional galleries. Lumina Gallery in Taos, owned and operated by Felicia Ferguson, has contributed the work of Annell Livingston. Ferguson has represented top American artists including the Art Center’s own Frank Morbillo, a member of the ACFL board of directors.  The Henningsen Fine Art Gallery, also of Taos, features the work of its owner, Chuck Henningsen. His work is recognized across the country and he has been associated with some of the top photographers and artists of the late 20th century.

Mel Johnson, principle artist and owner with his wife Diana of the Johnson Gallery in Madrid, is showing his aerial views of the New Mexico landscape. His acrylic painting, “Spring Bosque Dry” hangs as a diamond shape with violet, lime green and touches of yellow. Local artist Christine Brown’s photograph is coincidentally titled “Improv in Madrid” and vibrates with intense color.

The centerpiece of this exhibit is well-known Los Alamos artist and chairman emeritus of the Art Center board, Mary Carol Williams. Her magnified watercolor views of brilliantly colored flowers are deft compositions that possess the freshness of garden light.

Altogether her floral works give a sense of wandering through a manicured English country estate. Williams is the special invited artist for this exhibit and presents a well-developed professional body of work.

Sue Ellen Haines, also of Los Alamos and the “ring leader” of the ACFL Friday afternoon collagists, presents delicate works on paper that echo metaphors of haiku poetry. The transparency of her paper overlays, give a feeling of the freshness of spring in a raked Japanese Zen garden. Janice Bicho’s ink and watercolor compositions also reflect the influence of Asian art forms and motifs.

For the first time in the Art Center Artists Gallery, current board member Lori Birkholz of Jemez Springs, presents an abstraction titled “Scarlet Infusion.” The image unfolds before the viewer’s eyes as though watching a slow motion film of a seed breaking through its shell and reaching for the sun.

Former chairman of the ACFL board Phil Kilgour of Chimayó presents his refreshing oil on canvas, “Aspen Spring” with green buds in contrast to Nancy Kreibel’s “Spring Blooms” with radiant pink blossoms.

Gustave Baumann, a distinguished New Mexico artist of the 1930’s and 40’s whose work hangs prominently in the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, is known for his woodblock prints. Mary Sweet’s own woodblocks of New Mexico landscapes have all the compositional strength and color one finds in Bauman’s work, in particular her work titled “Bandelier.”

Three dimensional media is represented in the work of the following artists: Carol Mullen, Bettye Sullivans, Julie Filatoff, Sheila Burke, Rene Gentz, Terry Lawson Dunn and Chris Judson.

As always, local and regional photographers abound. Recently, a photo show organized by the Los Alamos Photo Club, which meets monthly at the Art Center and whose members work was displayed in the Mesa Public Library, gave the community a rare view into the creative mind of the photographer. “Let’s Celebrate Spring” has its own artist photographers including Joel Williams, Will Karp, Marke Talley and Ford Robbins.

Painterly bravura is demonstrated through the impasto technique and vibrant colors presented in works by Anita Blythe, in particular her view of the Sandia Mountains in spring, and Margie Sarrao, Ronalie Moss, Jane Chandler, Paula Reid, Robert Estep, E. E. Aicher and Charlotte Shroyer offer up the same sense of the viscosity of pigment. Eliza Schmid’s oil on panel vibrates with the intensity of a Kandinsky. Her ability to deftly handle both abstraction and naturalism shows artistic versatility.

Maureen Howles is the featured artist in the Portal Gallery. Her mono prints and mixed media flaunt the title “Awaiting Spring.” Howles’ compositions are active and flowing. All is in flux, as is spring itself.

For more information about the show or the artists please contact the Art Center at Fuller Lodge, 662-9331. To view the works in “Let’s Celebrate Spring” go to the Art Center website www.artfulnm.org. The Art Center Gallery is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.