Red West Contemporary gallery sparks conversation of domestic violence and abuse with First Friday Artwalk show |

Exhibition at Red West Contemporary gallery sparks conversation about domestic violence, abuse

“At Last,” a piece of art created by Kristen Woodward, is part of the exhibit, “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover,” which is showing at the Red West Contemporary Art gallery in Steamboat Springs. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Today, in schools across the country, shooter drills are as prevalent as fire drills.

“Students today can’t imagine a time when that wasn’t the norm,” said Kristen Woodward, Pennsylvania artist and art professor at Albright College. “It shouldn’t be.”

Inspired to act, Woodward created “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover,” an exhibition created 10 years ago, using art as a means of sparking discussion about domestic violence and abuse.

If you go

What: First Friday Artwalk: “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1
Where: Red West Contemporary Gallery, 1125 Lincoln Ave.

While a few of the pieces have been shown at other art venues throughout the U.S., this is the first time all 50 of the pieces are being shown together at the same gallery.

The opening reception for the exhibit will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, at the Red West Contemporary Gallery, 1125 Lincoln Ave., in conjunction with First Friday Artwalk.

In addition to the art, Advocates of Routt County will host a table at the studio along with a representative from the Steamboat Springs Police Department. A $100 donation will also go directly to Advocates for each piece sold.

“I wanted to bring this show here because I feel like we’re in this bubble and this sense of safety,” said Susan Schiesser, co-curator at Red West Contemporary gallery. “People need to know that support is here. That it’s OK to talk about it, deal with it, express it, address it.

“I feel that the darker side of human nature is so much more horrible than what these paintings depict,” Schiesser continued.

Woodward is an artist who uses her talents to portray her personal opinions on women’s rights, the use of firearms and the ethical treatment of animals. Schiesser was introduced to Woodward’s work when she saw her “Dairy Princess” piece that was featured in the “This is America” exhibition at the gallery.

“They are like these dark, dirty secrets,” Schiesser said. “No one stands up and says ‘I’ve been roofied or raped or abused’ — no one says it because we’re in that age where there’s no eye contact about it. It’s not talked about.”

The show features Woodward’s 50 encaustics augmented with collaged images from magazines and other sources. Titled after the Paul Simon song, the images are displayed on life-size sheets of pre-printed target paper, like those used in a shooting gallery.

All of the targets represent the same outline or image yet, for each of the figures, Woodward altered their characterizations to reflect a new meaning for each.

In some of the images the figure dissolves, Woodward explained, becoming more of an idea, an intuitive interaction between prey and perpetrator.

“This work is in your face and is different than my other paintings,” Woodward said. “But the issues we are confronted with today, it’s in your face.

“There’s so many layers of domestic violence and abuse,” Woodward added. “I’m hoping the series gives us a common place to begin the conversation.”

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

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