Curtis Center gallery show highlights experiences of women

Exhibit of 60 pieces includes wide variety of art forms


When the Colorado Women’s Caucus for the Arts sent out a national call for artists, the response came in from coast to coast — we noted works in the exhibit “Old Myths, New Stories” (which opened Nov. 7 at the Curtis Center for the Arts in Greenwood Village) from Massachusetts, Alaska, California, Indiana, Colorado, of course — and points in between.

The exhibit honors “womyn, wimmin, women, womxn” who are celebrating the centennial of their right to vote across the nation, in an exhibit that runs until Dec. 23 at Curtis.

Director Chris Stevens said there were about 200 submissions, from which the jurors — Stevens and his wife — selected about 60 pieces to include in this collection of two- and three-dimensional works that suggest a variety of ways to respond to today’s world.

Variety in technique, medium and interpretation/image makes it a “don’t miss” for a number of reasons — both philosophical and practical.

The Best of Show award went to Denver painter Denise Dambrackas for her appealing oil and acrylic painting, “Begin Again,” portraying a beautiful little girl perched on a stack of political books, including one called “Begin Again,” as she holds out a familiar, bright yellow Dr. Seuss for us to read to her ... Technically strong, it does stand out ...

Standing at the center of the gallery is a somewhat whimsical piece: “Love, Honor and Obey,” a life-sized mannequin in a black, lacy Victorian blouse and a skirt fashioned from a traditional quilt, with assorted items, including a doll, attached to it. Sayings and sarcasm here as one focuses on the details ... Oh so proper lady! “God Bless Our Home” says a sampler across her chest ... The artist is Marty Ornish, from La Mesa, California. I think she had fun with this one — I did speculate a bit about shipping it halfway across the country! Lots of detail, created with tongue firmly in cheek.

A contrast is an abstract encaustic monotype, called “Identity No. 3,” by Kim Roberts of Denver. It suggests figurative elements. And to the right of that is a shouting, middle-aged activist, with fist in the air — the variety of ways to tell a story.

Allow some time to look closely at some of this work. “Joanne” is a photograph submitted by Frances Murray Jones and Joanne Fruech, of Portland, Oregon, depicting a bare-chested, scarred woman, who had undergone a double mastectomy, but posed “prettily” in her high heeled shoes, glow from a quaint Tiffany glass lamp focused on her — a story of too many women we know ... It’s perhaps the smallest work, but has stayed in my mind.

Two skillfully-created collages by Rhonda Urdang of Flagstaff, Arizona, have fun with the classical mode: “Levitation of Bathsheba — after Lucas Cranach the Elder” and “I’m Dreaming of Tearing Off These Chains of Bondage” show real skill as well as imagination.

As with other art in this exhibit, a closer, and perhaps a second look will be in order. How did she do that?? Why did she??

Sonya Ellingboe


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