Art Exhibits

Assembled West

When: Feb. 10-25 2017

According to Rooted Studio's executive director, Meredith Ann, February is a transition month for this artspace. The gallery, located just north of Old Colorado City, has recently disclosed that its current space is no longer viable, and it will soon be packing up shop. Without an immediate location to move into, they're using this month to go out with a bang, presenting a collaborative art exhibit that really speaks to the spirit of Rooted Studio — working together.

"I've wanted to do a project like this since college," Ann says of Assembled West, which opens tonight, "bringing together four or five artists, working on a project together." Ann, a collage artist, recognizes that there aren't many folks in the Springs who work in her preferred medium, so when she met Jasmine Dillavou, she immediately brought up the concept of collaboration. Then, others came on board who had expressed an interest in the process — Cymon Padilla, whom Ann says "works with cool new mediums to express fun ideas"; Gay Houghtaling, a multi-media artist who collects and assembles found objects; and Riley Bratzler, who has worked in various mediums herself and wanted to take on the concept of artifacts through collage. [Disclosure: Bratzler is Assistant to the Publisher here at the Indy.]

As for the inspiration behind the topic, Ann says the concept of the American West kept coming up in her life. "What is the West?" she asks. "This icon of the cowboy — why is that so American?"

All five of these artists grew up here in Colorado, where the concept of the Wild West is just woven into the fabric of local identity. This Western ethos generates the same repetitive stories, Ann says, images like old-timey saloons and brothels, all myths that "are quite alive here, but dressed differently."

So Assembled West seeks to deconstruct those common images and themes. Dillavou examines the hyper-masculine figure of the cowboy alongside the hyper-sexualized view of the female form, weighing similarities and differences between the two; Bratzler seeks to answer the question, "when does a mass gravesite become an archaeological dig?"; Padilla tackles the topic of memory through cyanotypes, product of a unique photographic process; Houghtaling's vintage-looking shadowboxes recall old family adventures; and Ann speaks to the theme of migration, a sense of "how did we get here?"

Next time, since Ann knows she wants to try a large project like this again, she hopes to include more voices, to present a more varied approach to the topic. But in the meantime this assemblage of artists and themes helps to present an image of the West that you won't find in any John Wayne movie.

6-9:30 p.m. (and by appointment through Feb. 25), Rooted Studio, 116 N. 30th St., free,

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