You can find art all over town — not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.
Bodhi means enlightenment in Buddhism, and so it's a fitting name for Kelsey Alexandra’s business, given the inspired and eclectic body of work – jewelry, sculpture, acrylics, oils and watercolors – that the artist creates out of her Loveland home-studio. Alexandra has been making art since she can remember, but only recently decided to pursue it professionally when, after a few attempts at traditional day jobs, she finally realized she wouldn’t grow to tolerate the 9-to-5 lifestyle. “Being a full-time artist is infinite and unlimited,” says Alexandra.
Beyond a few high school classes, Alexandra doesn’t have much formal training. But while waitressing on the Winter Solstice in 2012, Alexandra met a retired master jeweler who became a mentor and taught her a few tricks of his trade, and has since given her access to his studio.
“Sculpture is my main passion,” Alexandra explains. So for her jewelry, Alexandra begins each piece by hand-carving the design from wax and it into silver. The process can take up to forty hours because the wax occasionally breaks. Alexandra finishes her pieces with patina to darken and color the silver’s surface. Not many silversmiths use this technique; “I think it makes it look magical,” she says.
As a final touch, Alexandra gives every piece of jewelry an energy tone. “If somebody is struggling with something, then a particular piece can help set the tone for who they want to be,” she offers. “The energy tone can give people a sense of their higher selves.”
When painting, Alexandra works mostly in acrylics. “They’re cheap and versatile,” she explains, adding that she also experiments with oils and watercolors: “I’d like to get more training someday because there are really cool techniques out there that could help me a lot."
For now, Alexandra relies on a technique called dry brushing. “I use a little water,” she says, “but my brush is dry when I dip it in paint. Then I scumble it, which is process of going back and forth to create layers.” The combination of dry brushing and scumbling gives Alexandra’s works their unique look.
Another point of distinction is Alexandra’s soulful stimulus: She takes most of her cues from the folks who commission her pieces, and draws energy and inspiration from each client's story. “My overall goal is to be able to capture a moment in space and time,” says Alexandra. “I try to open people’s eyes about the reality we are living in, which is a lot more deep than what you glimpse on the surface. I haven’t gotten my skills up enough to capture this in my paintings yet.”
Alexandra’s debut exhibition was at the ARISE Music Festival, where she joined about fifty other artists in an open-air gallery curated by Annie Philo. The venue felt a little predestined since it was the 2010 Sonic Bloom Festival that opened the artist’s eyes to “this whole other world,” Alexandra says. “Loveland was a sheltered community, and I grew up around some close-minded people.” That's why she tried to go to at least one festival a year.
Alexandra now shows at festivals, but she sells most of her art on Facebook and Instagram; she's working on producing an Etsy page, too. In the meantime, she’s also been collaborating with other artists via the Illuminatorium, one of Denver’s latest art concepts. “There’s a whole underground art scene that’s just blowing up right now,” Alexandra says. In February, she participated in a doll show, turning a Munny doll into a cookie seeking revenge on the Cookie Monster.
Alexandra will show some of her work at the Illuminatorium’s Kings & Queens, opening at 8 p.m. Cluster Studios on Thursday, April 2; the event will feature live music and unreleased collaborative works by Lacey St. George, Joe Peters, Banjo, Ace, Domino, Shackman, Calvin Mickle, Ryno and GPS. Admission to opening night is $20, and the exhibition shows through April 15 by appointment.
For more information on Alexandra and her work, visit her on Facebook.
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