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Try a slice of the Big Apple

Julia Ben Asher/For Steamboat Tdoay
Fred Hodder will be one of the artist featured at a new show opening Friday at the Depot Arts Center.
John F. Russell

When photographer Fred Hodder went to fetch the 8-1/2-by-11 copy of a cityscape from his printer, he realized the sheet of paper had previously been printed upon. His wife and studio-mate, expressionist oil painter Monroe Hodder, had already inked out one of her paintings, then put the sheet back in the tray to be reused.

But, instead of ending up crumpled at the bottom of a waste basket, the collaborative concept of two superimposed art forms will be showcased Friday at the Depot Art Center.

Viewing the Hodders’ “New York Now” display may be an intense experience for anyone who’s been living beneath Steamboat’s two- and-three-story downtown and forever-mountains skyline. LED light boxes feature Monroe’s bright, free-flowing brushstrokes, overlaid and blended with Fred’s silhouettes of angular skyscrapers and masses of pedestrians.

Post-production, “Fred melds my paintings with his photographs to make them work as something that blends well, sparkles and looks interesting,” Monroe said. “I’m always amazed and delighted by what Fred produces.”

Fred’s solo altered works run the gamut from cohesive, black-and-white photo montages of endless reflective windows and gritty harbors to pieces that bring to mind computer-generated architectural renderings.

The Hodders’ pieces are complemented by hanging kinetic sculpture installations by Robert Delaney, who they know through Denver’s William Havu Gallery. One of Delaney’s sculptures also graces the Hodders’ Steamboat home.

Similar angles and colors between the artists’ pieces tie everything together. The striking exhibit, collectively named “Soaring Spaces,” transports its audience straight to the heart of the Big Apple.

“You could step right into this one (‘Sixth Avenue Collaboration’),” said Steamboat Springs Arts Council’s visual arts and education programs manager Madeleine Mason.

Arts Council Executive Director Kim Keith said the show was not to be missed.

“Collaborative work goes beyond the individual and establishes a deep connection between the collaborators,” she wrote in an email. “It is truly magical when it works.”

She also noted another exhibit to be featured at the Depot: Arts Council’s featured member artist and local art teacher Jody Elston’s series of vases portraying the seven chakras.

“While art itself does not have a gender, the August exhibit at the Depot Art Center encompasses both the masculine, with the Hodders’ NYC skylines and Delaney’s modern metal sculptures, paired with undeniably feminine, Elston’s whimsical, nurturing and elegant forms,” Keith wrote.

Fred, who studied engineering and computer science in college and later worked with IBM, explains “New York Now” as a way to examine issues society currently faces.

“A lot of these projects seem to be responding to the top one-10th of 1 percent,” he said of new residential and commercial structures he’s seen being built in the 21st century. “If we have a slow-growth economy, how are houses going to be filled? What does that say about modern society?”

He noted observing similar housing trends in resort towns, including Steamboat.

When the Hodders aren’t residing mountainside in Steamboat, they live and show art in New York. The city’s competitive, cutting-edge art scene has pushed Fred out of his artistic comfort zone of still photography.

Since beginning to show his first pieces in galleries in London in about 2000, Fred has explored every major vein of the art form, including dabbling in videography. He’s snapped landscapes of English countrysides and Western ranches, taken portraits of people living in Kazakhstan and South Africa and captured images of a hippo roaring, black bears scuffling and lions about to mate. Which, occurred in 2006, thanks to local artist and gallery owner, Susan Schiesser, as a major force that propelled his photography career forward. He also has participated in group shows at the Artists Gallery at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Now, however, Fred concentrates his efforts and focus toward a narrower area: the urban photography displayed in “New York Now.”

Besides being an exhibit, “New York Now” also exists as a hardcover book of photography, available for purchase. Fred sees potential for the project to expand into a larger book, likely by partnering with a writer or architect to build on the commentary of history, politics and economics behind current architecture.

“Soaring Spaces” will be the displayed at The Art Depot throughout August. In October, the Hodders will display their work in the Space Gallery in Denver.


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