Red Cliff artists chronicle travels in China |

Red Cliff artists chronicle travels in China

Ruth Moon
Vail CO, Colorado
HL Norris Lamont TS 07-25-08

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Old and new, young and old, painting and photography ” the artwork of Joan Norris and Jim Lamont provides a study in contrasts.

Both artists found food for their imaginations and palettes on their recent trip to China, and the images they captured will be on display for Vail Valley residents to view during the next two weeks at the Vail Library. The show kicks off with a reception this afternoon.

The library’s community room is available for free to Eagle County residents who wish to display their art, said Patty Corbitt, Vail Library art exhibit coordinator.

Lamont, who looks for contrasts to paint, found plenty to choose from in China. One scene she described was the view from a skyscraper. Looking down from the building she could see old, one-story, traditional neighborhoods, slowly being torn down to make room for the new workplaces.

“I guess what always captures me is … people, color, just the ambiance of any place I go to,” Norris said. “I don’t do political art; I don’t want to make a statement.”

Her husband, on the other hand, looks for a social commentary or political statement for his photography. He points at one of his photos, in which a traditional Chinese lion statue and a George Washington poster share space in front of the Shanghai Art Museum.

“It’s kind of the paradox of our two cultures and where we’re going,” he said of the photo’s message.

Lamont turns to another set of photos: an up-close shot of a panda bear’s face, side-by-side with rows upon rows of miniature, clay Mao dolls for sale in a tourist shop. “This is our view of China ” how we’ve viewed China for the last several decades,” he said. “The good side of China is a panda bear and the bad side of China is Maoist communism.”

The contrast between the two artists is clear in the couple’s tiny Red Cliff studio, which is crammed with paintings and photos of all shapes and sizes; flower arrangements and aspens share wall space with Chinese dolls, Grecian buildings, Tibetan monks and German graffiti.

But despite the differences ” or perhaps because of them ” Norris said she and her husband never get in arguments about their art.

“We both are individuals and we keep our own space. … There’s no competition. It’s a different media, so we don’t have to compete about ‘well you’re doing that painting, I’m doing this,'” Norris said. “I think our work is probably a good contrast.”

Together, Norris and Lamont have been to parts of Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. Every time the artists take a trip, they spend months at home afterward preparing work for a local show.

The most memorable part of their Asia trip was the visit to Lhasa, Tibet, the couple said. Ten percent of the proceeds from the upcoming show will flow to the Save Tibet fund.

“(Tibetans) are as intrigued with us as we are with them,” Lamont said. “It’s easy to take photographs of people that are curious about you.”

To prove his point, he gestures toward a photo of a Tibetan face stretched in a smile from ear to ear.

“We were more in touch with those people,” Norris said. “And, of course, I shopped a lot, and that was really fun.”

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