— Volunteers and local artists gathered at the Depot Art Center Tuesday morning to selectively place artwork for the viewers at the Steamboat Springs Arts Council Winter Works 2002 fine art exhibit.

Preparing for an art exhibit at the Depot means long hours of deciphering which piece goes where by someone who knows art.

“You have to love art and go to a lot of museums,” said Jill Murphy Long, chairwoman of Winter Works 2002.

With artists demanding how and where they want their artwork, Murphy Long said the process can be daunting. But the challenge is almost always worth the effort on opening night, she said.

Docent Elaine Love said it’s crucial that artwork look aesthetically pleasing when hanging pieces side by side on the wall.

“It’s kind of like when you decorate a home,” Love said.

Winter Works 2002 consists of 50 pieces of fine artwork from more than 35 artists throughout the country. All artwork is for sale.

This multimedia fine art exhibit features everything from watercolors to photography to craftlike art. Murphy Long said it’s important to look at theme, color and size when hanging pieces but the ease of the flow also is key.

The opening reception will feature wordplay games in which the community can participate.

Alpine Heating and Sheet Metal donated a large piece of sheet metal and Off the Beaten Path Bookstore donated bundles of magnetic words for people to create their own sayings or poetry.

Murphy Long said the Writer’s Guild and the docents also have worked to put together a book of words. Instead of signing a guest book, art lovers can come to the reception and pick words out of a bowl and create phrases or sentences.

Murphy Long also suggested there may be a poetry activity as well where money would be raised to benefit a local charity.

Local artist Jeff Hall presented a double-exposed photograph of the sky with white cumulus clouds and a Scrabble game board with various words spelled out.

Some words include reality, freedom, lives, moon and radar.

“Wordplay was the theme, so I chose word games,” Hall said. “I bought the Scrabble board just to do this piece.”

Beth Banning, assistant for programming at the Depot, said fewer artists are inclined to partake in an exhibit that has a theme because that may mean they have to create a new piece.

“The idea is to encourage artists to do something different than they would normally do,” Banning said. “We want them to do something special for the show not look through their collection of stuff to pick something.”

Artists submitted three slides to the Arts Council, giving the group of five jurors a variety of material. Banning said the theme weighs the heaviest.

“Some pieces are a stretch,” Banning said.

Oakland, Calif., resident Karen Katsir shipped her six pieces bundled into one “I Learned to Read Brail with my Eyes.” The pieces are six separate rectangular-shaped plaster of Paris segments that contain a sporadic design of plaster of Paris lips in different forms. Obviously, the artist had a particular design in mind in placing the various lips on the plaster of Paris boards but to the seeing person, one can only think “Wordplay.”

Susan Shatter judged the national exhibit based on the Wordplay theme. Shatter is an instructor at the National Academy of Design in New York. She received her bachelor’s of fine art at Pratt University in New York and her master’s of fine art at Boston University. Shatter also attended the Skowhegan School of Sculpture in Maine.

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