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Museum of Friends hosts work of three artists

by Bill Knowles

WALSENBURG- Brendt Berger, Linda Fleming and Peggy Zehring are showing work from the 80’s and 90’s at the Museum of Friends.  The 5,000 square foot downstairs area will open for the initial showing during an open house July 8 from 5 pm to 8 pm. 

    Art made from found material is the central theme that informs the three-person show.  On display will be a sample of the large scale paintings produced in the late 1980‘s by Berger and the wood sculptures made by Fleming in the early 1990’s.   

    The fine art of Peggy Zehring will be displayed upstairs.   One reviewer described these works as  “contemporary mandalas.” These pieces are built from found material she located in a Colorado junkyard.

    Berger’s paintings are produced from 5 foot by 5 foot cardboard sheets found in a basement and painted with paint leftover from government projects.  Fleming’s early sculptures are built from wood she found and salvaged.  Some of the old paint on the planks is still evident. 

    For Fleming, placement of the five pieces on display was very important.  For example, she positioned one of her pieces in order to get its angles to visually suggest an intersection of ideas with Berger’s painting titled “ Ricardo meets Death at Custard King.”  The triangle of wood in Fleming’s sculpture gives dimension to the triangle in Berger’s painting behind it.

    “I knew Ricardo when I was growing up back east.  He was working on a truck owned by the Custard King company.  He was under the truck when the jack gave way and the truck came down on him stopping his heart,” Berger explained.  “His death really affected me then.  This painting is a tribute to him.”

    Fleming has maintained a studio in Libre since 1968 where she made her first sculpture.  According to the chronology of Fleming’s career posted on her website, she was one of four founding members of a new artists’ community at Libre.  She designed and built a 40-foot geodesic dome on the site as a studio and a home.

    Both Brendt and Maria Berger are well known in artist communities in several states back east including New York.  It is these associations and friendships that feed the vision of Museum of Friends.  The paintings on the walls upstairs are gifts of artists known in the local art circle to Brendt or Maria.

    The July 8 open house will start in the downstairs area of the museum giving visitors a sense of the size of the art on display there.  Upstairs is where the Zehring show is being held where visitors will have a chance to view her work while taking in the unique work that has been given to the Bergers. 

    The official show opening will be on Saturday, August 14, from 5 pm to 7 pm.