by Nelson Holmes
CUCHARA- It’s summer in Huerfano County and the small towns are ripe with art and celebration. My quest was the Cuchara Hermosa Art Show but my route was through La Veta and, of course, Francisco Fort Days and street vendors and folks happily lost in a Norman Rockwell moment. Kind of like being locked in one of those instant lemonade commercials, but without the insincerity. As much as I wanted to linger for awhile in La Veta’s idealized summer, I forced myself back onto the highway and knew, by the smell of barbeque and the sound of live music, that Cuchara was around the next curve.
The Cuchara Community Center was hard pressed to contain what was showcased within. Paintings, photography, ceramics and sculpture became a riot of color and form until, as if reacting to bright light, my eyes could slowly adjust to this density of stimuli. As I walked the rows I was struck by the organic nature of the pieces displayed. Whether it was as precise as a familiar mountain vista, or more vague and subjective, speaking to an intimate sense of a place, these pieces, like the artists who created them, are familiar with Huerfano. Ann Gethen’s painting “Light Between the Trees” elicited that kind of recognition; a distant remembrance of color, wind and motion. The Aminita mushrooms, rendered in colored pencil in a drawing titled “Scarlet Ladies” by Nora Wood, reminded me of how much that is beautiful and curious lies about our feet. I could well be wrong, but I believe that good representational art evokes a depth of feeling that transcends mere recognition. I don’t want to leave the impression that the Hermosa Cuchara was simply a single genre show; it wasn’t. An abstract fused glass piece by Jill Whitmore called “Black Geometric” should have had its own, smokey-jazz flavored soundtrack. “Mary in a Box” a small, peculiar, hypnotic and oddly compelling piece by Cynthia Wolf, is the product of a photo emulsion transfer process that I’m wholly incompetent to explain, yet it drew me like a siren. Surrounding the paintings, along the four interior walls, were striking displays of jewelry, sculpture and ceramics. A three dimensional standout were the pieces Dick Butler had polished and mounted; weathered and gnarled deadwood that stood, Zen-like, as a testimony to overlooked beauty.
As I wandered the center I was delighted to see Polly “The Potter” Harris and her stunning pottery work. As we spoke she informed me of another show, that opened July 29 and will run through August 23, at La Veta’s SPACe Gallery. Polly Harris, Nicole Copel and Lori Hannan are the minds behind “Clay Continuum III;” a vehicle designed to explore the diverse expressions and new visions of the tactile arts. The riches of our local artistic minds will become the fodder for memorable summer outings… so, start making plans!