Telluride Gallery March: “Emergence” + “Bloom”
March 1, 2022 - Susan Viebrock, Telluride Inside and Out
Telluride Gallery March: “Emergence” + “Bloom”
The Telluride Gallery of Fine Art is pleased to present “Emergence,” an exhibition featuring two gallery artists: Malcolm Liepke & Shawna Moore in the North Gallery and “Bloom,” featuring the work of Dana Flores and Dan McCleary in the South Gallery. The exhibitions are on view starting with Telluride’s Arts’ Art Walk Thursday, March 3, 2022, 5 – 8pm. The show will remain up through the month.
Walk through the door and you will feel the heat in the North Gallery (front of the house). The source? A new, ahem, “body” of work by artist Malcolm Liepke, who is keeping company with the sensuous encaustics of Shawna Moore. Their show is titled “Emergence.”
In the back of the house, aka, the South Gallery, “Bloom” features the art of ceramicist Dana Flores and painter Dan McCleary. “The flowers that grow in the spring Tra La.”
The work of the four artists, this festival of earthly delights, will be on display through until April 3.
North Gallery: Liepke & Moore.
If you missed the artist’s past shows, trust me, they were doozies: wall-to-wall, red hot peeps doing their thing, confronting us with looks that would melt steel, each one rendered by a painter who is an unapologetic realist.
For this encore, Malcolm Liepke brings us one more variation on the theme of his favorite and signature narrative – a celebration of flesh, features, and fabric.
Once again the artist delivers up his subjects, horizontal or vertical, supine or prone, on a silver platter with frankness and intensity – and the same rich textures that inhabited the canvasses we were treated to in the past.
And those beautiful faces, features working collectively to suggest personalities liable to change mood in the blink of an eye. Look away, then look back: who knows who you will meet this time in the guise of beautiful, mysterious strangers, some solo, others coupled up, all luscious and uncensored.
To depict loaded emotions, Liepke works with a loaded brush, making bold, lush calligraphic strokes.
Liepke remains at one cool remove from his subject; he makes no judgments, just observies and records, yet he manages to bring so much excitement to his scrutiny of light and shade on the exposed flesh and features of his models. The creaminess of the paint seduces the viewer into believing not much else in the room is worth looking at. We become rapt, hopeless voyeurs in the thrall of the artist’s muses.
Liepke’s true gift, his real magic, however, is a talent for revealing something more, something evanescent: the inner life of his subjects. The artist’s primary goal is to capture emotions that vanish before they can be named or tamed.
No wonder Liepke’s bravura paintings can be found in the permanent collections of the National Academy of Design, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Smithsonian, as well as in the private collections of celebrities from Barbra Streisand to Donna Karan.
Liepke is known to quote a legend scrawled on the back of a Rembrandt: “I yield to no one.” But we, the spectators in the thrall of Liepke’s subject. yield once again to the artist’s smoking brush.
Telluride Gallery has carried Liepke’s work since 2007. This presentation of 10 oil paintings, all completed this year, marks the first exhibition of the artist since 2018.
Enter Shawna Moore, whose work integrates elements of painting and drawing, reflecting her education in architecture and fine art.
Here Moore puts method to her particular brand of madness:
“Each line I draw describes a moment in my life as an artist. The interplay with materials is a visual diary of my life experience and my contemplative journey. Most fascinating are the passages which remain visible and those that disappear. The surface is a visual record of selective memory and how, despite our best efforts, outcome is subject to so many forces beyond our control. This ability of encaustic paint to reveal and obscure creates mysterious surfaces and depth filled fields of line and color.”
Moore’s work, really, as we said, is an exploration of her life via art, which has been described as “freewheeling,” “inventive” and “provocative.”
“Running like a river through my art are questions and implied answers about the nature of art, the boundaries between life and art, and the necessity of exploring those boundaries. Moving from conventional painting methods into experimental materials and a fascination with found objects helps connect me to the world around me and the interactions I experience each day. I am not interested in style as much as I am in spirit.”
And in that spirit we visit the show in the South Gallery.
South Gallery: Flores & McCleary
Fluid, yet rustic and raw defines the work of California native and ceramicist Dana Flores, influenced by everything she discovered in nature and history – volcanos, jungles, Mayan temples with ancient carvings, rough stoneware, rocks, leaves, seeds and flowers – on travels through Central and South America and visits to Joshua Tree. That desert is where the artist goes to replenish her soul.
“Even the dainty and delicate gifts that I found from nature on my travels like little rocks, shells, flowers, seed pods have stayed in my psyche and heart and are channeled in the creations of my work today.”
As in Nature, each of Flores’ creations are one of a kind.
Described by LA Times critic Christopher Knight as “among the finest figurative painters working today,” Dan McCleary is a painter-poet of everyday life, largely renowned for psychologically charged portraits of subjects engaged in what appears to be deep contemplation in quotidian settings doing everyday activities.
With his focus on urban living, by elevating the mundane, even society’s down-and-out, on a scale once upon a time ago reserved for royal portraiture, mythological figures and nowadays celebrities, McCleary stands on the shoulders of art world giants such as Vermeer and Manet.
Truth be told, McCleary has more common with Manet than might initially meet the eye. More than his monumental tributes to the sacred in the commonplace.
Towards the end of his too short life – Manet died at age 51 – as his health deteriorated, painting of flowers and fruit increasingly occupied his time. The paralysis of his left leg confined the great artist to his apartment and studio; he no longer could visited friends or frequent cafes. Instead, café life came to him, as familiars flocked to his studio to gossip and watch the maestro in action. Manet’s visitors came bearing flowers, which he adored – and immortalized.
And these final still-lifes are among the most beautiful pictures in the artist’s oeuvre.
Ditto for the oeuvre of McCleary.
Pre-Covid, McCleary’s studio rocked, with models coming and going, the artist working on four or five paintings simultaneously.
Post-Covid, in relative solitude, the painter shifted his focus from models to set-ups of fruit and flowers, which he renders from life as he always has – a nod to corona for sure, but also a tribute to Manet, whom McCleary has long admired. These still-lifes are of an extraordinarily delicate beauty, but also an on-going tribute to the McCleary’s undiminished prowess.
And a nod to the fact that the only constant in life is change, the subtext of both shows at the Telluride Gallery.
Time passes, beauty fades, petals fall off flowers.
Unless they are preserved on canvas or in clay.
The work of Liepke, Moore, Flores and McCleary collectively underline art’s power as witness and, as such, become meditations on the transience of life.
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