One of the best things about the spring and summer, I think, is enjoying the galleries in warmer temperatures. Judging from the turnout for last week's First Friday openings at the Depot Arts District, many people feel the same way. Saturday afternoon also saw some strong crowds in Manitou Springs galleries.
The shows themselves, however, were as up-and-down as spring weather.
Smokebrush Gallery's Ron English show definitely conveyed the slick, biting elements of English's socially charged works, but didn't use its own space very well. One entire wall was devoted to three similar Abraham Obama images, when one would be plenty. English's handful of works on the different personas of the Electric Illuminati boy highlights his creativity well, but I still left wanting more.
English's oeuvre is so vast and compelling, it's bound to be difficult to encapsulate it in a small exhibit. But the focus of this one felt much too narrow. (For an English fix, read here.)
Around the corner(s), in the Commons Gallery, hung Charles Knoeckel's black-and-white landscape show scenes from a dream: the landscape within. Although I was peeved with the large amount of works titled "untitled," the images are wonderfully dreamy (as promised) and weirdly realistic. Knoeckle strikes the right balance on such dreadfully tired subject matter, to offer something quite refreshing.
Meanwhile, Swirl Wine Emporium in Manitou Springs unveiled Liese Chavez's Deadpan Alley exhibit in its cobalt salon behind the store. Chavez has shown in other local galleries, including Mountain Living Studio, where she also works, but her art is entirely new to me and I have been missing out.
Tapping into a peculiar and moody world of aloof little girls wandering through unsettled landscapes, Chavez creates characters that feel like her personal avatars; we as viewers peer into her deeply personal realm. The rough brushwork of "Let Evening Come" and "Transformation" combine elements of folksy ex votos with hip supernaturalism. Her scenes are both sleepy and creepy.
Chavez's works are definitely feminine, yet her own oeuvre is expansive, from nudes reflected off of rippling surfaces to ultra-cutesy owls to Tim Burton-esque drawings of anthropomorphic animals dressed like royalty. For more on her work, visit etsy.com/shop/palepreoccupation and etsy.com/shop/deadpanalley.