Place and perception
¤ Opening reception for “Locations of Consciousness”¤ 5 to 7 p.m. today¤ Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.¤ Gallery Talk for “Locations of Consciousness”¤ 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday¤ Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.¤ Free¤ 879-9008
Steamboat Springs — Anyone who has spent time in the center of a charred forest knows why Susan Mackin Dolan dedicated an entire body of work to the surreal beauty of that landscape.
Her reduction linocuts on handmade kozo papers are simple, dark-lined illustrations that examine the look of the bare, burned trees against the larger mountain landscape.
She started the series after the wildfires in 2002.
“I was doing some on-site work up at Trapper’s Lake, drawing the smoke clouds off in the distance, and the entire place burned up right after we left,” Mackin Dolan said. “It was a rather poignant experience.”
Mackin Dolan and the two other artists who will show their work this weekend are from the Eagle Valley. From her home, Mackin Dolan could smell the fires during the day and watched the spectacular sunsets the smoke created in the evening.
“At the same time, there was a sense of imminent danger, and for the first time in 25 years, I did not want to return to Colorado from my annual summer trek back to Maine,” she said. The next spring, Mackin Dolan hiked into the area where the fires burned and photographed the burned trees next to bright green shoots growing at the base of their trunks.
“It was strikingly beautiful against the red dirt and the stark black trees had a wonderful graphic sensibility,” she said.
Mackin Dolan’s woodcuts will hang alongside work by Joyce Wimer and Meg Bernet as part of the exhibit “Locations of Consciousness: Three Artists’ Visions.”
The three close friends from the Eagle Valley approach landscape as a literal place or as a concept for emotional orientation — as a tool to “make meaning out of our lives,” Mackin Dolan said.
Wimer will show her “Portal” series of abstract collograph and mixed-media prints that explore place through a window of the viewer’s experience.
Each image features a doorway, which is a symbol of a trip to India taken by the artist and the emotional journey she took along the way.
“For me, looking at this work, it is about when she lost her husband,” Mackin Dolan said. “They were in a road-rage accident. Her husband and her dog died, and she was in intensive care.
“Then she went to India, and I see how she processed that whole thing through this ‘Portal’ series.”
Bernet’s work uses landscape in an entirely different way. Her etchings use maps as a background, just as place is a background for life. In this show, she has a group of 12 pieces called “Cabo Pulmo.”
“They are about her life down there, where she has some property,” Mackin Dolan said. “She spent a lot of time on the water.”
One simple but striking image is titled “Shelter” and features a tent and a fish on top of the map background.
The show description explains, “Bernet’s etchings are a means of recording or documenting images that she recognizes with absolute certainty to be familiar and essential. And by selecting, collecting and assembling them, she trusts they will tell her where she has been and where she may be headed next.”
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