Optic Allusions from Colorado native Linda Gleitz

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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.

"I just wanted to make a city," says artist Linda Gleitz. In her upcoming glazed ceramics installation, opening at SYNC Gallery on July 18 with a reception, she explores the current state of the world via a massive nine-foot-high, 25-foot-long "city" consisting of nearly eighty buildings. That world brims with a mix of people, attitudes and ideas, and includes, in no particular order: good churches, nice people, mean people, bad churches, a liquor store, homeless people, a meth lab, a local coffee shop, and a school honoring those who died in the Sandy Hook shooting.

See also: Lindy Hargrave spreads kindness along with charcoal, graphite, and paint

Gleitz, who paints the world as she sees it, might have set out to be an artist. But even the best laid plans go awry. The artist was studying art at the University of Colorado Boulder when her first baby was born. Her second came along a few years later, and so by the time Gleitz would have been ready to cut her teeth in the art world, she had a family to support and reluctantly dove into optometry where she worked as an optician, making glasses and selling high-end eyewear. "It was not something I wanted to do all the time, but once you have those babies, you have to pay for those babies," says Gleitz.

Thirty-five years later, Gleitz is retired, her children are adults, and she is turning her attention back to art. "It was the thing I wanted to do from day one, and I'm getting to do it now," she says, feeling fortunate. But Gleitz's art isn't just pretty to look at -- it's art, mostly ceramics interspersed with a few oils, offering a street-eye-view of the world we live in.

Gleitz recently received recognition for an oil painting on marriage equality, and the piece was included in the 2014 National Women's Caucus for the Arts show in Chicago. And, while the artist is surely inspired by various manifestations of religion, she says she's "not trying to point out anything" so much as "question things we do in the name of religion."

Within the installation you'll notice a series of churches Gleitz calls, collectively, Things We Do in the Name of Religion. "The world is fucked up and crazy," she says, "and I'm just trying to get to the heart of it, and religion is part of it."

The versatile artist shows her stuff locally, regionally and nationally at venues like the ARC Gallery in Chicago and the Chicago Urban Art Retreat. She's been to Laguna Beach and the Midwest, and hopes to make it to New York someday. But, the Denver art community is the Colorado native's true home.

"I was born at Boulder hospital, and now I'm a 55-year-old lady trying to make the world a better place one brush stroke at a time," she says. To support our local art scene, Gleitz participates in juried shows, Artwalk and the Longmont Studio Tour, among others. She's displayed her work at Java Stop in Longmont, which, by the way, will be included in her upcoming installation at Sync. (They're one of the good guys, no doubt: "That's where I get my coffee every morning," Gleitz says.)

Gleitz installed 150 ceramic birds at the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center as a part of her Capistrano series and facilitated a collaborative project on the same topic at the Salud Medical Clinic in Longmont. "When I was a kid, I focused on the Capistrano thing where the birds leave, migrate, and come back; for some reason I thought that was special, so I was trying to put that leaving and coming back into my art," Gleitz says.

When she isn't busy inciting change through her own art, Gleitz is a volunteer art teacher at Soft Voices, a Longmont drop-in center for those afflicted with mental illness, and last summer she completed a mosaic mural with her students. "I had each person paint on a tile, and then I fired them and put them on the wall," she explains. For more information on the artist or to contact her, visit Linda Gleitz's website.

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