HAPPENINGS September 2010
Off The Wall Art Gallery
It was almost impossible for my pen to move across paper fast enough to keep up with the pace of animated ideas voiced by Collette Webster as she walked me through her new art studio. But one thing rang out loud and clear; she is calling all artists to strut their various art forms in her artists’ co-op Off The Wall Art Gallery, a name that was chosen because everything on display is mounted “Off The Wall.” Already a dozen artists have been recruited for their treasures in the mediums of fiber, pastel, acrylic, photography, metal, clay, wood and jewelry and in the coming months Collette plans on doubling that number. So far approximately two-thirds of the artists are from out of town.
It didn’t take long to figure out that this dynamic woman wants to do things her way. In contrast to your typical art gallery, where there’s a minimal engagement between artists and patrons, she is striving for a hands on learning experience that includes classes and workshops. J. C. Borders has already been lined up to teach classes in pastels two nights a week. She’s reaching out in particular to the teenagers in our town and she strongly encourages them to take advantage of the opportunities the gallery will offer to learn the skills of an artist. She’s also excited about having young teens exhibit their work and plans on having the gallery sponsor a high school student specially juried and selected every month.
To keep things fresh and lively, a new artist will be featured every month and each artist on display in her gallery commits to appear on site one day a month to talk about his or her art. She also hopes that other artists in the community and beyond will get involved to share their own expertise at her studio.
When I look at the front of her new building, which was built by contractor Warren Egbert, the first thing to catch my eye is the originality of Warren’s first ever-metal project. Using a plasma torch and the welding skills of Jason Matz, Warren adds his unique craftsmanship and captures the essence of the metal transforming it into amazing creations - the soft illusion of lights portrayed as torches and oversized fenders morphed into awnings accented by the flow line of metal strips along the side of the building. Moving along to the metal gate and fence, Collette proudly points out gears from old farming equipment, which has been irresistibly integrated into its structure.
Studying the outside south-facing wall, the possibility of the creation of a collaborative mural with contributions by a number of artists engages my imagination. I will be fascinated to watch this novel project progress tile by tile as individuality of styles melds into the final end product of a cohesive masterpiece.
Walking inside the building, I notice that the ceramic light fixtures are a multimedia combination of wood, metal and glass. The sandstone panels on the walls in both rooms are marked with dendrite crystals with intriguing patterns that trick the mind into thinking it is observing fossils. But contrary to fossils, which have preserved the remains of animals and plants, dendrite crystals are formed when water rich in manganese and iron flow along fissures staining the rock with the percolating mineral solutions.
The front room is all about motion and flow and immediately my eyes follow the colorful rhythm of cobble rocks along the base of the wall. Then the cross lines of the old mine metal screens, salvaged from various junkyards, move my vision up the wall and back down again to the sandstone platforms balanced in the branching arms of polished scrub oak. Collette is a potter and her imaginative, nature-oriented creations grace these platforms; I linger over a large blackish bronze plate accented with moths and beetles and am captivated by the sturdy stance of a large three-legged vessel that reveals the soft flutter of butterflies waiting to alight on a whimsy of flowers.
Wandering into the back room, my eyes are drawn to weathered red panels of wood at the top of the wall. Their ancestry traces to an old barn back east - ironically the wood was actually found in Moab. The texture of Gayle Van Slyke’s all natural cotton and rayon fibers drape serenely from the ceiling with the thrilling discovery that they lower the noise level in the room. I was impressed to learn that Gayle dyes her own yarn.
Outside once again, I stroll through the gate and follow a walkway of sandstone to the miniature garden where I am intrigued with the memorabilia of an old wheelbarrow, an old-time metal milk container and the steering wheel of a tractor. That combined with a collection of Collette’s pottery adds a touch of nostalgia to the flowers and newly planted trees. This lovely spot will be a great place to pause and take a break.
The Off The Wall Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 to 6:00, Sunday from 10:00 to 2:00 and is closed on Mondays. It is conveniently located at 225 South 400 East, not far from Milt’s and Dave’s Corner Market. To stay abreast on all the gallery’s current activities, be sure to check the AdVertiser for the weekly schedule of events. For great food and entertainment come on by during the Art Walk on Saturday, September 11 to join in on the fun and excitement of the latest art happening in town.