Carrie Fell returns to Masters Gallery
Masters Gallery in Vail Village is once again featuring Colorado artist Carrie Fell. The show of her new work will be on display until July 23 – or when sold out – which in the past has happened quickly.Fell is rapidly becoming one of Colorado’s most visible artists. Collectors of her work, both private and corporate, can be found in New York, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Arizona and New Mexico. Why all the fuss?For one thing, Fell has captured the spirit of the “new West” by depicting its long time icons of horses, cowboys and cowgirls, but in a very distinctive style.Her medium of oils, acrylics, and pastels are often used together to convey the truly American symbols of freedom and wide-open spaces, which have made the western frontier a legend. Her pen and ink drawings have a sketchy quality to them. And, like her paintings, are reminiscent of Raoul Dufy, the French artist of the 19th and 20th century.As with Dufy, Fell’s images are light, lyrical and a tad romantic. Her subjects are typically handled with bold, bright colors in broad strokes and washes, resulting in something akin to a study, rather than a completed painting. It is this semi-finished appearance that keeps them from being nostalgic representations of the “old West.” Her paintings are decorative, but not trivial. Almost nothing happens in the background other than a flat color, and were it not for overlapping figures in some of her work, there would be no depth at all. Her treatment of movement is done with a few deft strokes, swiggles and lines. Fell’s recent commission to create the poster art for the 2004 Denver Polo Classic is a good example of how her minimalist style captures the speed and power of the ponies.In marked contrast to the dynamics of her horses in motion, are Fell’s pen-and-ink drawings of a seated buffalo or standing colt. Her talent for drawing is most evident in these simple line and wash sketches. Whereas the stationary figures exude tranquility, she also portrays strength and speed with her pen and ink work in “Bucky Sez,” a broncobuster at work, and in “Wild Deputy,” a rider at full gallop. The work is suggestive rather than photographic, and with her dreamlike, ice cream parfait palette, they are unique, but in danger of becoming cliche. Fell is obviously talented and there is no doubt she has found a style and niche that appeals to many people, including the dozens of galleries that display her work. However, it won’t be long before someone begins to copy her technique, ultimately diluting what she has accomplished.It would be nice to see her flex those creative muscles by exploring new territory, and subject matter. Of course, that suggests the possibility of losing an already appreciative audience. Yet, if the spirit of the West is her philosophy, it is a risk she must take to become a truly great artist.Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer and recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the author of two books on design and can be reached at WrtrF@aol.com.