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Visitors filled the Littleton Museum’s lobby and gallery on Nov. 16 to see the latest “Own an Original” art exhibition (the 52nd in the series), which had 477 entries — the most ever — according to Littleton Fine Arts Board Chair Denise Weed. She added that 60 pieces by 45 artists were selected for the varied show by juror Kathryn Charles, whom Weed introduced.
The exhibit was started more than five decades ago by the original Fine Arts Board to give local artists a chance to exhibit and local residents the opportunity to consider purchasing original art for their homes and businesses. The original board was set up by the Littleton City Council to screen offered art items when the then-new Bemis Library was under construction. It then evolved into an active part of the local art scene.
Charles, who grew up in Littleton, invited the crowd to come back and explore/discover/rediscover the museum, as she had: the other inside exhibits as well as the living history farms, with their historic buildings, costumed interpreters and assorted furry and feathered residents. Charles attended Littleton schools and went on to CU-Boulder for a bachelor’s degree and an MA in art history. She has been a curator at several museums, designed independent exhibitions, represented individual artists and recently directed a large-scale permanent installation for Lackland Air Force Base with two Colorado public artists.
She spoke of “six hours in a dark room,” reviewing all the entries and selecting a number that would fit in the available space. She also commented that in the installation by Exhibit Curator Kevin Oerfil, “one artwork flows to the next like a symphony.” She spoke of a “theme of vigor, verve …” affecting her 60 choices, complimenting artists who “picked boundaries” for their works.
Her selections cover a wide range of individual visions, styles and artists — many amazingly proficient in technique — including more than one “how-in-the world-did-they-do-that?” piece.
Awards for 2017 went to:
Best of show: Paul Gillis’ good-humored oil on canvas, “Itinerary.” One in a group of three related paintings, all technically very well executed, it depicts an otherworldly landscape, at the waterfall’s edge and a purple boat perched, pointing away from the steep drop. The “passenger” is a steaming red cylinder with a long nose. Gillis’ other titles are “Colloquium” and “Maelstrom,” done in the same style and size—also featuring that red cylinder. Bordering on the comic realm, these paintings reflect a creative mind we’d like to know more about. Unfortunately, Gillis was not in attendance to talk about his works. A 2014 story by Westword’s Michael Paglia says the prolific artist, represented by Rule Gallery, is in his 70s and paints a world that may be in outer space … Viewers, including young ones, will want to concoct a story of their own.
First place: “Kairos: The Turning” by Christina Carfora is a beautifully crafted ceramic sculpture of two female figures, descended from the classic Greek, but with a story as well, we’d guess. Carfora lives and teaches in Boulder.
Second Place: Frederick Pinchon’s painting “Sea Arches” depicts a mythical-looking ocean scene, magical in quality and presentation.
Third place: Heidi Rounds created a wonderfully rendered pastel portrait of a thoughtful child, “My Light.” Careful lighting really makes it glow.
In addition to Weed, city council-appointed Littleton Fine Arts Board members are Carolyn Bradish, Allison Eaby, Juliana Barnard and vice chair Kathleen Eckel.
While you can’t take it home until January, you might want to consider adding a new work to a personal collection — or giving a one-of-a-kind gift. In any case, a visit to this exhibit will be a most pleasant holiday diversion.
If you go
“Own an Original 2017” will be open at the Littleton Museum, 6028 S. Gallup St., Littleton, through Jan. 7, 2018. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 10 to 5 p.m. Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. (Closed Dec. 10, 23, 24, 25 and after noon on Dec. 22.) 303-795-3950.
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