In July, as artist Eric Shumake was preparing for the opening of his first official exhibit -- "Charnival," part of the current Merge group show at Plus Gallery -- he was simultaneously accepted into the Vermont Studios Masters Program. As a result, Shumake was unable to attend the opening night of Merge, which showcases a few dozen of his pieces alongside the work of fellow local Matt O'Neill and New Zealand artist Shannon Novak. Plus Gallery owner Ivar Zeile still wanted the absent artist to be able to speak about his first full series of publicly shown work, though, and tomorrow night, Shumake will get that chance.
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"There is something to be said about Eric's ability to work a crowd," Zeile says with a laugh, referring to timing that has Shumake speaking right before the gallery goes on hiatus. Plus will be closed from August 18 through September 6, giving Zeile a chance to rest and spend time with his family.
This final show of Plus's summer seems to be the perfect exit for the artist, too. Back from Vermont, Shumake is now moving on to a curatorial position at Naropa University, where he's also been teaching. "One of the things that intrigued me most about his work is that I've known Eric for a long time -- he's dabbled in art, but I don't think it was ever his focus," Zeile says. "He applied for a teaching position at Naropa, and I think it inspired him to turn his attention to art. The 'Charnival' series took me by surprise -- It materialized on Facebook, and drew me in."
The group show is based on the concept of abundance: Each artist has many pieces on display that together form one cohesive exhibit. "They merge with this idea of three completely distinct bodies of work that are small-scale, but can resonate off of each other," says Zeile. "All the works are intertwined -- they each have 'zones,' but intersect throughout the gallery."
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Eric Shumake will deliver his artist talk at 7 p.m. tomorrow, August 16, at Plus Gallery, 2501 Larimer Street. Drinks and discussion are encouraged, and the event is free. For more information, visit the Plus Gallery website.