Embarrassment of riches | VailDaily.com

Embarrassment of riches

Stew Mossberg

One of the more venerable galleries in Vail Village is also one of the most richly endowed. A fixture in the village for 15 years, it is one of five galleries owned by James Tylich.

Known for its focus on Russian artists, Vail Fine Art Gallery also displays artists from other parts of the world. In fact, as many as 50 are represented here. With that many top quality practitioners it isn’t possible to describe all of them here. Several of them, however, are so outstanding they deserve special mention.

To be sure, such high level art does not come cheap, and Vail Fine Art, with some paintings commanding six-figure pricetags, is one of the higher priced art houses in the valley – or anywhere else for that matter.

This East Meadow Drive location is well lit and spacious. Alcoves and rooms are filled with lush art and sculpture providing the viewer with a wide range of work, styles and mediums to choose from. Among them are familiar names such as Pissaro (Paulemille), Chagall, western artist Robert Hagan, and Colorado plein air master, Don Sahli.

Sahli, who is artist in residence at the gallery in March, is represented by several paintings. Of these, I found a still life, “Zakharov’s Roses and Peonies,” to be charming, full of exotic color, and quite different from his normal subject matter, albeit the technique still exhibits his characteristic assurance and keen eye.

His “Puddles at Sunset” is more within the landscape genre, but not his usual palette. Here he has jumped into brilliant oranges, reds and yellows with a passion – and stunning results.

If you share a fondness for things Parisian, the work of Americo Makk will seem familiar. His wet Paris streets, unencumbered by traffic, horse drawn or otherwise, is reflective of a time when the Follies Bergere was in full swing. Makk’s wife, Eva, is also an outstanding practitioner of oil painting, but the work she has on view, “Vail Sparkle,” is more contemporary and provides a winter view of the village as seen from Gore Creek.

As you browse through the two levels you will find small as well as large-scale sculpture. Martin Eichenger’s work can be found in several spots, but you shouldn’t miss “Rapture.” Here is a wonderfully lyrical and romantic bronze piece, finished in a bismuth patina that looks like marble; male and female ballet-like figures entwined, their torsos springing from a double helix, spiral base.

Perhaps the most impressive of all the work on exhibit is the monumental painting by Karp Trokhimenko, “Rachmainoff, Gorky and Shaliapin, 1917.” The scene captures some of Russian history’s theatrical figures in a private moment. The large-scale work provides a glimpse into the lives of these men that is almost voyeuristic, while creating a sense of wistful charm. The non-descript background fascinated me almost as much as the foreground subjects. The Impressionistic, pastel colors frame the figures, and are reflected in their clothing, yet all are well grounded by the brighter red Oriental rug. Gorky, in Cossack dress, sits pensively listening to Rachmainoff at the piano, while bass singer Shaliapin contemplates the score.

I was entranced, too, by Vladimir Nasanov’s “Frosty Evening.” It is one of those paintings where the brushstrokes are very much in evidence, suggesting an almost simplistic technique, albeit it is anything but. Nasanov has also created a painting of a Parisian street scene entitled “Paris Taxi.” It is worth revisiting the Americo Makk image mentioned above to appreciate the contrast between these two artist’s techniques as they treat a similar theme.

On the lower level of the gallery there is an arresting horizontally formatted painting by Iosif A. Serebryany. “Marten Steelworkers” pays homage to the working man. The orange glow on their strong, chiseled features is a reflection of the furnace fires, and provides a unique lighting for portraiture.

As Russian painters go, Feodor Zakharov is a well-known colorist, and Vail Fine Art has several of his canvases on display. One of my favorites is “In Massanra.” Like most of his work, it exhibits a nervous energy with quick, yet assured, brushstrokes.

This is one of the few galleries in the Valley large enough to encompass such a broad range of work, one where you can actually step back and admire, as well as study a painting or sculpture.

Stew Mosberg is a writer and journalist working out of Blue River, Colorado. He holds a Bachelor of Design degree from the University of Florida, College of Fine Arts and Architecture, is author of two books on design and is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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