Prior to 1877, Fremont and Custer Counties were one and the same, and yet today, aside from the Fremont Custer Historical Society, we share very little.
Most people who live in Custer County very rarely “go below” to Fremont. They take the odd trip down to Canon City, but no sooner have they picked up their pavers from Home Depot, eaten at the Owl, and bought a nearly new shirt at Goodwill, then they turn-tail and head back up the mountain.
Not that the fried egg cheeseburger at the Owl on Main Street isn’t in itself worth the trip, but Canon City (famed for having the oldest community arts council west of the Mississippi) has more on-offer. In particular, I recommend Fremont Center for the Arts, one block north of Main Street at the corner of Fifth and Macon in the beautiful old Post Office across from the most excellent library. (And you thought that I couldn’t give directions!)
Currently FCA is hosting a knock-out show mounted by the Westcliffe Contemporary Quilters and Fiber Artists. Not that I don’t appreciate traditional quilting, but I love the inventiveness… the whimsy… the thinking outside the box… of contemporary fabric artists who have not only the sewing skills but also the quirkiness to go where no man has gone before. The proof, of course is in the pudding. I’m including a few photos to establish proof.
One feature of the exhibition is 12″ x 12″ squares sewn to illustrate twelve, monthly themes. Twelve, squares are arranged as window panes, three squares over four. How intriguing to see twelve interpretations on one theme. If you are ever disheartened thinking that big box stores and television have homogenized our brains, you can see this show and take heart. Individual creativity is alive and well.
Rhonda Denney exhibited numerous pieces that I liked – so many that it was difficult to choose my favorite. Her Zebra caught my eye, as did her environmental entry: hands cupping a heap of earth. So many choices… so little time. In the end, I decided on Denny’s entry for the theme of “Sweets.” Aside from the needlework, she layered applique and paint using colored pencils, pastels, and fabric paint. I can taste the watermelon. The juice is dripping off my chin.
Given my interest in politics and my need to find lightness, humor or intelligence anywhere on the political landscape, I laughed aloud when I saw Deb Martin‘s submission. Her square was wonderful in itself, but as one of twelve interpretations under the banner of “Fantasy,” my heart leapt up at the meld of technique, color and cartoon humor. Indeed, quite the fantasy.
Another favorite, this under the environmental banner was a square by
Betty Johanson. Her lime green Tree frog (with bulging deer-in-the-headlight-eyes) hangs on to earth for dear life with his sticky orange toes… as in real life, the Tree frogs cling on despite a loss of habitat and climate change. Johanson is a fabric artist, layering technique on technique, but she ups the ante with her playful interpretation and political message.
In addition to the twelve, 12″ squares on one theme, the contemporary quilters exhibited works (I’m not sure… titled something like “Windows on Westcliffe”) framed by discarded window frames.
In most cases, the fabric artists wrote commentary and included photos of the Custer County scene that had captured their fancy. Again, I loved each and every one – each so individual and creative. Choosing one window to feature was difficult. Kay Loudenberry‘s work is a good example. The distressed window framed by the curtain perfectly frames the scene and sets the period of the derelict home and the broken wagon.
Julie Stamper‘s window caught my attention because instead of looking out of a window, we see a child (no doubt standing on tiptoes) looking through the window and into a sweet shop. Looking out… looking in… all in the same scene with familiar Westcliffe buildings (the Lutheran church, The Feed Store, the iconic Jones Theater) on the outside and the cookies and the tea towels on the inside. I was dazzled by the multiplicity. What a trick!
Individualism is alive and well. We are not all cut from the same piece of cloth. What a good feeling.
The show runs through August 30th. Honor our local artists and treat yourself. It is a mind-blowing exhibit. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 – 4. Mondays the gallery is closed. During the summer, FCA is open noon to 4.