Changing Scenes

A duet at Robischon, two solos at Sandy Carson, and Lew Tilley takes his final bow.

The Folkestad sculptures that make up Stoppers are all similar and all titled "Stoppers." The sculptures take the form of gigantic eggs that are scattered throughout the spaces in the front of the gallery. The shapes are made of concrete, with a steel arch emerging from the top of each; the ends are cracked and open, with tangles of braided rope spilling out.

Folkestad, who has a BFA from Metropolitan State College of Denver, became well known locally for her ambitious installations that subtly indict domestic life from a feminist standpoint. That might be true of "Stoppers," too, but it's hard to see it. I suppose you could argue that the eggs symbolize shelter, while the ropes suggest the connections between people -- but that seems quite a stretch.

It's understandable that Folkestad has turned from installation to sculpture: Installations are more work, and someone might actually buy a sculpture. Nonetheless, I do miss those incredible total designs she did during the 1990s, when her ambitious pieces took over big chunks of Edge and Spark. One of my favorites was her enormous mechanized work at the Arvada Center, "Musical Chairs."

"S(weep)," by Jack Balas, oil on canvas.
"S(weep)," by Jack Balas, oil on canvas.
"Frame," by Sarah McKenzie, oil on canvas.
"Frame," by Sarah McKenzie, oil on canvas.

Details

JACK BALAS and WES HEMPEL
Through November 5, Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298- 7788

Constructions and Stoppers
Through November 12, Sandy Carson Gallery, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303- 573-8585

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The two different approaches used in Constructions and Stoppers allow these exhibits to preserve their individuality, a perfect situation for two solos.


The Broadmoor Academy, which became known as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center School in 1936, played a very big role in the art history of Colorado. Founded in 1919, the school flourished in the 1920s, Œ30s and Œ40s, attracting notable faculty and enthusiastic students, then gradually disappeared in the 1950s, when it was slowly absorbed by the tiny art department of nearby Colorado College. The story of what happened involves the Red Scare and the left-leaning politics of many of the artists working there amid the conservative climate of the Springs. More than anything else, these political problems -- and not aesthetic ones -- ultimately doomed the fabled place.

Though the school was essentially gone fifty years ago, many of the students who trained there stayed in Colorado and continued to influence the course of art in the state. One artist who fills this bill is Lew Tilley, who died earlier this month at the age of 84. Born in Georgia in 1921, Tilley studied at a variety of institutions before finishing up with a BFA at the University of Georgia in 1942, where he trained with Jean Charlot, later the director of the CSFACS. After graduating, Tilley began master's-level work at the CSFACS, studying with legendary director Boardman Robinson and Adolf Dehn. He completed his program in 1945 and began teaching there, remaining part of the faculty until 1951. In 1965, he started teaching art and graphics at Colorado State University in Pueblo, when it was still called Southern Colorado State College. He did this for more than twenty years while also painting, taking photographs, writing prose and poetry, and making short films.

Tilley's painting style of the 1940s was regionalist and showed the influence of Robinson and his earlier mentor, Charlot. From Robinson he took the idea of using many figures to tell a story, from Charlot the squat proportions he employed to carry out those figures. But the '40s and '50s were revolutionary times for art, and Tilley was swept up in current events. Like most of his generation, he abandoned regionalism and became a modernist, concentrating on surrealism and abstraction. Throughout his long career, he was relentlessly experimental. In the 1980s, when he was in his sixties, Tilley began doing computer-generated prints and drawings.

Too bad there are no plans for a Tilley memorial show. I know I'm not the only one who would love to see it.

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