Motorized neon orbs and organic acrylics |

Motorized neon orbs and organic acrylics

Shauna Farnell
"Country Roads" by Jewel Lauer.

MINTURN – Walking through an exhibit of Darlene Kuhne’s artwork might be the closest some of you get to riding through the galaxy in the Millennium Falcon. “As I was putting it together, I was thinking it would be like ‘Star Wars’ – like you’re up in space and traveling,” said Kuhne, who is a glass blower, a neon bender and an abstract painter. “You get to go around the universe and when you come across a planet, you see the shards (of glass) are the craters. I wanted that feel of earth and of the planets like you’re traveling in space and seeing all these different planets as you go by.”

Kuhne’s “Neon Universe” and other neon-endowed galactic ensembles will be on display at Soke Fine Art Gallery in Minturn along with that of another Front Range artist, Jewel Lauer. A reception will kick off the exhibit tonight at Soke, which has just landed another location on Santa Fe Drive, in the heart of the Friday night Gallery Walk in Denver. The Soke Annex is slated to open next month.While Kuhne’s work uses an array of interactive multi-media, Lauer’s uses natural artifacts such as stones and leaves amidst her collages of acrylic paint and photography.While the work of both artists represents the earth, visually, they are entirely different.

“It’s two different spectrums – inorganic and very organic,” pointed out Justin Brunelle, Soke Gallery owner. “Jewel’s putting things together in this satellite way. She has layers and washes, using natural objects – leaves, Chinese coins, different stones, photographs.”When launching into a piece, Kuhne seems to have a better idea of her end result, whereas Lauer said every time she embarks on a piece, her approach is entirely experimental.”When I start a piece, I have no idea what the final work will look like,” Lauer said. “I go in and start playing with color. I’ll start gravitating towards mixed media papers and collage images. Compositionally it just starts to come together.”

Putting her background with various materials to use, Kuhne’s “Universe” has its own motor and its own lighting system. While looking anything but natural, she said that the soft glow of neon is something people find strangely soothing.”Being a glass blower and neon bender, you really end up enjoying that nice glow of the light coming around,” she said. “Once you have a piece of neon in the house, you don’t want to be without it. It’s a just a nice color glow.”The process of creating for Lauer, albeit spontaneous, provides her with a spiritual connection with her subject matter and all that it represents.

“It’s very much about being in the present moment and witnessing versus being real directive with the work,” she said. “That’s what keeps me in whatever direction I start gravitating towards. In that way, I feel like it’s a great spiritual practice in trust and letting things evolve organically.”Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or Colorado

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