As part of a spontaneous outing with my friend Judy, we stopped by the Opening Night Framing Services & Gallery for the artists’ talk on “Nature: Hints of a New World,” an exhibit featuring the works of Hazel Belvo and Marcia Casey Cushmore. Who knew we had happened upon such a momentous occasion! The exhibit was not only a grand representation of the women’s travels all over the country and world, but also the very last show to grace the walls of Opening Night—its owner is retiring and closing the business’s doors after forty-four years. Yes, we stepped into something very special.

It’s apparent that both Casey Cushmore and Belvo revel in the gift of color. Their works range from painterly renditions of bold and bright flower gardens, to gnarled and textured trees, to modular landscapes, to all-out abstracts. I loved every single piece in the exhibit—and even more so after learning more about the artists and their perspectives on art, life, and our precious natural surroundings.

Looking closer at “Gratitude” by Casey Cushmore

Marcia Casey Cushmore
Casey Cushmore’s portion of the talk was a tribute to the beauty and necessity of trees. She helped us consider how trees not only sustain our lives, but also serve as our best examples of community as it should be. Life-giving. Sheltering. Concerned about the wounded. Trees embody these positive qualities, and we humans can pay homage to trees—and, in all likelihood, save the world—by reflecting this kind of beauty ourselves.

My favorite works by Casey Cushmore were of trees painted with incredible texture. On closer inspection, the paintings were composed of small shapes and splotches of various colors, some of which were outlined with darker hues. My takeaway? I would love to try this technique using knitted items as my subject matter.

Belvo filled an accordion journal with drawings inspired by The Overstory.

Hazel Belvo
Belvo continued the conversation with musings on the “Spirit Tree;” it’s located among the forests of Minnesota’s North Shore and has inspired much of Belvo’s work. Along with Cushmore, she recommended The Overstory: A Novel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning and tree-inspired book by Richard Powers. Belvo showed off a delightful hand-drawn accordion journal showing the progression of seeds to sprouts to seedlings to full-out trees—her tribute to The Overstory.

“Seascape Triptych I” by Hazel Belvo

I obviously have another book to read. In addition, I was intrigued by Belvo’s triptychs, each made up of one abstract landscape paired with two complementary paintings showing the detail of tree rings or another related pattern or texture. I’ve added a similar triptych to my list of assignments

What a treat to be in the presence of both of these women—through my meeting them and seeing their art, it was apparent they bear timeless talent and big hearts for the future of humanity and the system of which we are a part. Theirs is a noble pursuit indeed.

p.s. Hear from the ladies yourself! Listen to Ampers interview>>


Artist Date: Foothills Art Center – April 2, 2018


Foothills Art Center, Golden, Colo.

On a recent trip to see my sister and her family in Colorado, I visited the Foothills Art Center in Golden. Situated on a prominent corner of this gorgeous mountain town, the Center was once a presbyterian church. The building itself—erected in 1872—is a grand work of art!

Currently on exhibit are juried selections by the Center’s member artists. What a treat it was to take in so many different talents and media. Here were the highlights for me…

Technique: “Jumble Birds” by Joyce Shelton
The vibrant colors of this piece drew me in. In her artist statement, Shelton shares that she was applying layers of transparent of acrylic paint when birds seemed to emerge. She then used opaque acrylic to make their presence more apparent. The process of making “Jumble Birds” sounds so fun and gratifying!

Term: “Pointillism”
At a glance, “Robin’s Trees” by Shirley Gist looks like a two-dimensional painting, but upon further exploration, I learned that the image is made of nails and is actually a “sculpture.” Gist describes herself as “[a]lways a fan of pointillism,” but it wasn’t until she decided to quit smoking that she tested the technique for herself. “You can’t hammer and smoke at the same time!” she says. As the term implies, pointillism is a method that employs small distinct dots to arrive at a distinct image.

Artwork: “Conservation of Self” by Tara Flores
The visiting public was invited to vote for their favorite piece, and this painting received my nod. I was taken with the intricacy of the geometric shapes she employed to arrive at a floral-esque interpretation of relationship and emotion. I also dig that she used house paint, in addition to acrylic, in creating “Conservation of Self.” It’s fun to imagine why she used such a medium and how she got ahold of it. Was it what was available at the time? Was she smitten with the color? Perhaps it adorns a wall or two in her home? Maybe I’ll find out someday.

Artist: Tara Flores
It was “Conservation of Self” that made me aware of Flores, but upon further investigation, I fell in love with her entire portfolio! It’s a colorful collection of abstract art in a variety of themes: “Inner Space,” “Peaks & Valleys,” “Energy,” etc. The artist shares this about her choice of genre: “Abstraction gets me. There’s an immediacy to it. You can’t know what it is, what it ‘means’ or what it is trying to convey for sure, but you feel it… Even if you don’t ‘get it,’ it gets you.”

Your work has definitely “got me,” Ms. Flores!

Takeaway: Trifecta
My visit to Foothills spawned three ideas—a trifecta of sorts! First, I’d love to try my hand at Shelton’s process to see what specific images might pop from my freely painting. Second, pointillism is something I’ve wanted to try for awhile, but instead of nails or paint, I’m eager to use punched-out dots of paper from magazines. Finally, the word “soul” has been bouncing around in my head in recent weeks—I hope to create an abstract depiction of what that word means to me. I know, I know—it’s definitely time to get to work!

(NOTE: I would love to include photos of “Jumbled Birds” and “Robin’s Trees” here, but when the artists themselves don’t share their art online, I don’t feel comfortable doing it for them.)