Summer Art Market is creativity overload

Two Littleton residents among 234 exhibitors in two-day Denver event


Through the year, Art Students League of Denver welcomes artists from across the metro area to learn — and to teach in many types, techniques and styles of visual arts — and to associate with each other. As they did last summer, Littleton member/artists Michelle Lamb and Sue Blosten will share a booth to exhibit and sell their assemblage art during the busy annual Summer Art Market on June 9 and 10. This year, the two were among 234 area artists who were juried into the SAM. All will set up booths in the blocks that surround the repurposed Sherman Elementary School at 200 N. Grant St., Denver. (Booths will be set up in the area bounded by First and Fourth avenues and Logan and Sherman streets.)

The landmark 1893 school building houses continual classes for ASLD members — modeled on the New York Art Students League, where working area artists teach techniques in ceramics, painting, fiber arts, mixed media, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and photography. Art is exhibited throughout the year in the school’s gallery, but many eagerly await this annual market to add to a collection — or to find a perfect gift or two — or to spend some time just happily looking.

Assemblage is variously defined: as a form of sculpture comprised of repurposed found objects, arranged in such a way that they create a complete new piece. (These objects can be anything organic or man-made.) Or: art made by assembling disparate elements, often scavenged by the artist. At times, it’s difficult to distinguish between an assemblage (three-dimensional) and a collage (two-dimensional) “When in doubt, ask the artist,” one writer advises. An object may acquire a particular new meaning in the context of its location as part of a whole new composition — and the artist may make up an entire storyline. Or better yet, a series of compositions and storylines!

We learn that French artist Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) is credited with originating the “assemblage” term in the 1950s — and developed it out of artistic and intellectual movements of that time. Picasso, Braque and many others included assemblage in their creations.

Although cultures around the world compose artworks from a variety of materials, those labeled as “assemblage” carry a particular, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, flavor and contemporary ambience.

Both Littleton women, longtime friends and neighbors, are formally trained artists who can look at an object — or a collection of objects — and invent a whole new artwork with them, and perhaps include some other unique items already stashed in their studios. And both are constantly on the lookout for additional treasures that stimulate the imagination.

A fair competency in craftsmanship is also required to complete any given composition: one must cut, fit, twist, glue, bolt, balance, paint, gilt, bejewel, layer and more after the initial desired image is conceived. That image could be inspired by a button, a swatch of fabric, a small. sparkly object, part of a non-functional appliance, a small sculptural piece, beads, piping, cord, ribbon, rusted tool, discarded wagon wheel or clock part … the list is endless.

Lamb’s artist statement says: “Alchemy abounds within the sculptures created by Michelle Lamb. Driven by narrative, she highly manipulates found objects, allowing determined amounts of original patinas, shapes, textures or inherent iconography to provide `the Plot’ for her assemblages. She creates a provocative world where wood is turned to metal, calipers into antlers, antlers into branches; where iron nails resemble grass, cages contain hands while birds perch on wheels and glass lenses magnify the inner mysteries found inside obsolete machinery.” She is a member of CORE New Art Space on Santa Fe Drive, Denver.

Blosten states: “Sue Blosten creates assemblages from found objects. As a part of a strong belief in recycling rather than trashing items, she combines paint, metal, jewelry, fabric, paper, tile, porcelain, terracotta, slate, wood, glass and many more mixed media to form both abstract and realistic images. I use what I find and find what I use. Conglomerations of disparate materials challenge me to create integrated artworks.”

Mark the calendar for June 9 and 10! And wish for good weather …


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