Painting Outside the Lines

Stephen Batura is known for his large-scale canvases depicting mountain train wrecks and other moments snatched from history, which he normally shows at Robischon Gallery. But when Jill Hadley Hooper invited him for a solo at Ironton Gallery, he jumped at the chance to stretch his artistic horizons. The resulting exhibit, Stream, consists of only one site-specific painting: actually, a 110-foot frieze of seventeen interrelated horizontal panels.

As usual for Batura, the panels are based on images from History Colorado’s archived files of the century-old photographs of Charles Lillybridge, but lately he’s been focusing on smaller patches of imagery, which are sometimes blown up on the panels to the point of becoming unrecognizable.

“I’ve used images from the archive as raw materials from the beginning, and I’ve tried to subject it to lots of different interpretations over time,” Batura says. “I started out being journalistically true to the original spirit of the photos; now I’m trying to push further away from that to depict something closer to current contemporary life.” And that’s the beauty of producing work for an alternative space: “It reinforces the idea that experimentation is a great thing to do at venues where you’re not aiming at sales. I’m still represented by Robischon, and they’re behind it; they like the idea. It takes away the pressures of commerce.”

Stream opens tonight with an artist reception from 7 to 10 p.m. at Ironton and continues through June 28; call 303-297-8626 or visit
Fri., May 23, 7-10 p.m.; May 23-June 28, 2014

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd