Local abstract artist to be featured at the Chief Theater | SteamboatToday.com

Local abstract artist to be featured at the Chief Theater

Local abstract artist Jan Maret Willman will have her work featured at the Chief Theater and Harwigs for the First Friday Artwalk this month.

— When looking at a piece of nonrepresentational art, what does a viewer see?

If You Go…

What: Jan in January

When: 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 2

Where: Chief Theater and Harwigs/ L'Apogee Restaurant.

Perhaps some kind of shape or object. Or maybe just a mere swirl of colors.

Local artist Jan Maret Willman poses a challenge for those who will view her work at the First Friday Artwalk. They will be asked to look beyond what they see and experience the emotion they feel when they look at Maret Willman’s paintings.

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"You have to tap into your emotive and sensory system to look at it," Maret Willman said. "I believe that nonrepresentational art is much like music in that it communicates through the senses and not the brain. It evokes some kind of emotion."

Her work will be on display from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the Chief Theater. She also will have a few pieces displayed upstairs at the Harwigs/ L'Apogee Restaurant. Her work is primarily nonrepresentational art, which is a form of abstract art that doesn't portray shapes or objects viewers easily recognize.

The reason Maret Willman is challenging viewers to look deeper into her paintings is because she’s seen people leave her shows in frustration from their inability to identify what was in the painting and she's also seen those who seem to gain an appreciation for her work but don’t know why.

"It's truly an exploration you do when looking at her work," said Nicole Snyder, an interior designer at Vertical Arts Architecture. "The pieces relate to each viewer in a different way, and it really pulls the viewer into the piece. I am just fascinated by her work."

Maret Willman's theory is that those feelings of frustration or confusion come from the brain's ability to automatically generalize something when it looks at objects so it can quickly analyze and identify any shapes or forms that resemble something in the viewer’s memory.

If a viewer looks at an object for the first time, the brain — like a computer — will go through its data bank and try to identify what the object is or what it looks like. However, if the brain cannot process what is in the image, how can the viewer enjoy the painting for what it is?

Maret Willman said the simple solution is to utilize a different system.

"What I strive to do is to give people permission to let go of their thinking mind and break that spell that our minds are under in our everyday world and to start seeing with their emotions," Maret Willman said.

With her art, she challenges herself to create images that the mind and eyes cannot comprehend but that spark emotion. "Reality is just silence colored in” is a phrase she uses regularly to describe her outlook on life and art.

Inspired by natural elements, Maret Willman's work comes from the emotions she feels when looking at a scene beautifully rendered in her memory. That's what she hopes comes through on the canvas.

"The fluidity in her pieces exposes an ethereal movement in the way she layers the textures and colors to create a new kind of depth in the painting," Snyder said. "When she paints, you can see that there is a voice of things around her, and she paints that directly. It's beautiful to see that in each painting."

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

If You Go…

What: Jan in January

When: 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 2

Where: Chief Theater and Harwigs/ L’Apogee Restaurant.

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