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Call of the wild women

April E. Clark
Vail, CO, Colorado
Post Independent/Kelley Cox
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When Nancy McKenney speaks of the Glenwood Springs Center of Arts’ “Wild Women Exhibition 2007,” food comes to mind.

“I think the work is like a wonderful gourmet dinner,” she said, from her home/studio in Emma. “You taste each bite and remember it year after year … All these wonderful nuggets on a plate.”

McKenney used descriptors such as butter pecan, French vanilla and tangerine to characterize colors in her acrylic-with-mixed-media work. The exhibit, featuring 17 female artists from the Roaring Fork Valley, opened June 1.

“(My work) has aesthetic, eye-appealing energy. There’s nothing deep … they’re not complex,” she said. “It’s like a little ice cream cone for your day.”

In her first year as a “Wild Woman,” McKenney relished the challenge of filling her eight-foot space in the Center for the Arts gallery with her images. Over the last two decades, she studied Asian art and art history at Smith College in Massachusetts, color at Yale University, and professional photography at Colorado Mountain College.

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“I’ve had a ball being a rookie who has been doing art for awhile,” she said. “The education and the art have given me a nice personal life. I’m a blessed soul.”

The Colorado landscape and her vibrant flower garden inspires McKenney in her work.

“It’s self-expression, and a little bit of beauty,” she said. “Whether I’m looking at food or the flowers in my garden. I’m just working with color that talks to each other.”

McKenney also finds inspiration in other female artists in the valley, including those featured in the summer exhibit. A small art group of women meets at her home on the first Tuesday of every month to collaborate.

“For me, it becomes a creative meditation,” she said. “Whether you’ve been an artist for three years or 30 years.”

Inclusion in the “Wild Women Exhibition 2007” came to McKenney as a surprise. Gayle Mortell, Center for the Arts director, noticed her work when McKenney sent her a thank you card featuring her acrylic-mixed media design work.

“The card was a piece of art in itself ” it was so beautiful,” Mortell said. “It was so clean, so simple, but it has a lot of levels to it. Her work is very colorful, and it really expresses her personality.”

McKenney spoke highly of the show, and feels honored to be featured through Sept. 4.

“I think it’s a wonderful mix of personal expression,” McKenney said. “When you see it, your soul lights up because you didn’t expect to see something. I think the energy is right on.”

Contact April Clark: 945-8515, ext. 16601 aclark@postindependent.com


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