Fraser: Art larger than life |

Fraser: Art larger than life

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

The beauty of large- and small-scale sculpture will be the highlight of a free artist reception Saturday. The Elizabeth Kurtak Fine Art Gallery is pleased to present “Garden,” A Sculptural Exhibition tomorrow evening, through the garden gate at the Fraser Mercantile building.

Although her gallery garden has caught the eye of many for its natural beauty, the space also offers a perfect spot to showcase some of the features in this newest display.

“I wanted to provide this opportunity to artists with large work,” said Kurtak, gallery owner, artist and long-time Grand County local. “Most galleries don’t have the space for a show like this, and many of the pieces are meant to be viewed outdoors. I don’t think I’ve every anticipated a show with so much glee.”

The wine and appetizer reception features six Colorado artists specializing in various mediums. It highlights the work of Jeff Erwine, Justine Sawyer, Greg Wasil, Kamber Sokulsky, Richard Mertinet and local artist Bridget Cookson.

Erwine was born in Berkenfeld, Germany and migrated to America with his family in the late 1960s. A resident in Colorado now for the past 30 years, he is self-taught, taking great inspiration from a great uncle, Albert, who taught him to look at the world through an artist’s eye. He finds inspiration in the mountains of Colorado, nature, “and the rusting carcasses of early-American Detroit iron.” His work is said to reflect a great reverence of life. His medium is a result of “immediate recycling,” he says, using found materials, often corporate castoffs, “and assisting them in achieving their highest form.” For this show he is bringing up his “Guardrail Angel,” an 13-foot behemoth made from a recycled guardrail with pickup truck tailgates for wings said to be his crowning glory.

Sawyer divides her time between Denver and Tabernash. She has taught art professionally for more than a dozen years, focusing on her own work when she can. She is showing a single large ceramic piece called “23 Directions,” which reflects the 23 moves she has made since leaving the Iowa farm that was in her family for a handful of generations. The piece is said to be thoughtful and honest, encompassing “a journey with treasures and wisdom gathered, and the respite of finally finding your way home.”

Wasil, of Lakewood, “suppressed his inner artist as long as he could” but a trip to a “Burning Man” artist festival inspired him to quit his day job. The efforts through which he was an auto body and paint tech have since been redirected toward producing work which is whimsical, unique, “and meant to be played with and on.” His favorite subject matter is animals, with this show to showcase an elephant and a dinosaur.

Sokulsky, of Longmont, began her journeymanship as a blacksmith about five years ago. She works with a variety of different weld shops and blacksmiths, some of which are deemed as masters at their craft. She created her own company called Black Hawk Forge in 2006 and focuses on fine art sculpture work and high-end furniture.

She said she enjoys the crossover of the craft world and the world of fine art.

Mertinet, a descendent from European ironworkers and blacksmiths, carries on his family’s tradition working with iron to create unique sculpture. He earned a bachelor of fine arts in sculpture and his work has been featured in the Denver Parade of Homes, the Junior Symphony Guild Show Home, the Loveland Sculpture show, and may be viewed at several galleries. His pieces are said to be graceful and polished, defying the heavy nature of the metal medium with elegant lines, and well considered compositions.” His sailboats, which “are particularly fetching,” are to be a feature at the Fraser gallery exhibition.

Cookson, originally of Wisconsin, moved to Grand County in 2000 from the Big Apple. An artist, massage therapist, and yoga and pilates instructor, Crookson is fascinated with the human form, the main inspiration for her artwork. Her abstract pieces are said to be reminiscent of different parts of the human body, “challenging the viewer to look internally for explanation and interpretation.”

Their work will be on display at the gallery, following the opening reception, through July 6. Next up for the Elizabeth Kurtak Fine Art Gallery is the Second Annual Grand County Artists Group Exhibition July 25-Aug. 3 and the Summer Works 2008 Show Aug. 30 through Sept. 8 (with opening receptions 6 to 10 p.m. those first days.

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