Art show isn’t just meant to be seen

‘Shared Visions’ exhibit features works that visitors are welcome to touch


Look left as you enter the “Shared Visions” exhibit at Colorado Gallery of the Arts, in the Annex at the east end of Arapahoe Community College in Littleton — and you’ll see a sign inviting you to “touch” and a giant yellow replica of a common 2HB pencil hung at an angle on the wall. A line flows from its lead tip to the corner …

Artist Isabelle Beauprez has written: “I enjoy blowing things out of proportion — that includes art projects. I choose a pencil as it’s often the artist’s first tool. Prior to moving on to another medium.” Might she be headed to a furniture design career?

Note that all labels are both in Braille and in text, so a sighted visitor can try to imagine how it might be to gain information through the fingertips …

Turn left past the pencil, open a worn wooden door and enter “Escape,” in the gallery’s new Installation Room. Artist Marci Corbitt has created her image of a hike in the mountains, with a leaf-strewn path, plant material surrounding it, and a fan making a cool breeze. It even smells “woodsy” like it should — moist and inviting. At the rear is a painting, framed by dried branches, leading the eyes into the distance.

Gallery director Trish Sangelo is happy to offer the new space as a different challenge to artists.

Perhaps in its former life, it was a storage closet for cleaning supplies, but it will be fun to see what artists create here.

The “Shared Visions” tactile art exhibit runs through Dec. 3 and is a repeat of a successful collaboration between ceramics, painting and 3D design students from Arapahoe Community College and the Colorado Center for the Blind, which opened with a reception on Nov. 1.

If one enters and looks straight across the gallery, there is an entertaining installation by Jenny Callahan that invites one to invent a story about it. At the left, a bird-like creature with a long blue beak and beady eye is tangled in some rope netting — i.e., a giant yellow spider web.

To the right sits a rotund, genial-looking, multi-colored spider, created from bits of pink, purple, orange, red and other bits of tissue, tucked into wire netting. Again, near it it the invitation to “touch.”

On the end wall and around the corner between the pencil and the spider are some paintings, ceramic works on pedestals and a series of individual pieces — many in assemblage form, with various objects composed into an image, framed in wooden boxes. Found objects, driftwood, metal objects and more, some clearly inspired from nature and “what in the world is this” items have found their way into an art show with imaginative manipulation. A dinner plate-sized bristly dried flower-ish image suggests a dried sunflower — but not quite. It is almost a bit menacing as it droops/climbs out of its box. Does it bite? Here too, one is invited to touch the images.

In contrast, farther along is a bright yellow 3D sunflower, attached to an electric cord and plug at the end of its stem, where it plunges into a large flowerpot.

These continue past the spider and around the remainder of the gallery: more paintings and assembled images, some highly textured. Colors are bright in general. Ceramics vary between functional pottery and sculptural works.

Interior Design student Corella Tejussa exhibits a design board for “a beach house in Panama, where I come from.” It uses subtle colors with carpet, fabric and paint samples, enclosed in a house-shaped wood box frame. At the bottom of the frame is a slim green box, holding sand and a few shells — just a suggestion of the real thing — and very touchable.

Some framed works have raised images — a pair of pink aquatic salamanders, called “Olms” by artist Arlana Rathbun, circle around a baby protectively, mounted on a deep blue background and framed like a proper family portrait. Readers are invited to visit this exhibit, and please do touch the art!

If you go:

“Shared Visions” is in Colorado Gallery of the Arts, located at the east side of the Littleton Arapahoe Community College Campus, 5900 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, until 7 p.m. Tuesdays. Admission is free.


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