Satisfying a craving for creativity in Vail
VAIL – In some cultures, there is no word for art. Art just is, artist Alexis McLean said.
That’s why we say “OOOOh” and “AAAHH” during fireworks.
Coming up with descriptions and definitions are limiting, McLean said.
“There is a black and white idea in the Western world about everything, and I do mean everything,” McLean said. “You’re in a relationship or you’re not, you’re sad or happy, you’re poor or rich, you’re a good artist or a bad artist. All of these are based on definitions that we are taught to blindly believe, instead of creating truths from our own experiences.”
She has shows hung in Edwards, Denver and Durango. The Edwards opening is tonight at the Alpine Arts Center.
Art is everywhere
McLean was born in Vail, raised in Squaw Creek before there was a Cordillera, graduated from Battle Mountain High School and competed with Ski and Snowboard Club Vail. No cable or satellite television.
She lived outside and learned to love it.
“My roots are in the snowy mountains, clear waters and vibrant desert landscapes,” she said.
Where the rest of us see the next ski run or the next algebra class, McLean lives where light and art merge.
“I am fascinated by the space where we all become one, to see how an image can adapt an image into one,” she said.
McLean works constantly with children, and at 27, isn’t that far removed from their perspective.
“I’ve always been focused on hands-on work and creativity, getting kids into their environment,” she said. “Kids who sit and play video games miss going outside and experiencing how wonderful nature is.”
Like most kids, sometimes her parents had to force her to go outside or go hike with them.
“I remember complaining to my dad, but it helped build me into someone who’s able to create and think,” she says.
Not only is it the proper attitude, it has the added benefit of being correct. Researcher Malcolm Gladwell found that time and repetition matter, and that you train your brain to do what you want it to do.
Input matters, too. Adults will often tell children that they’re not correctly drawing a tree or something else. Oh yes they are, McLean says.
“Kids need to hear that what they’re doing is beautiful, and that creativity comes out in all sorts of ways,” McLean says.
Ghosts in the gallery
McLean graduated Fort Lewis College in Durango with a BA in fine arts, and spent the last few years chasing that rainbow. It led her to Denver last year trying to make it as a full-time artist.
So far, the pot of gold at the end of that rainbow is an old kitchen she rented as a studio instead of a studio apartment, because studio apartments tend to be inhabited by people who are serious about wearing berets and scarves, but not art, and besides the light is all wrong.
So, when McLean looks in her mirror and tells herself to hit the kitchen, she’s actually glad to do it.
And, the artists in residence are spirited, to say the least.
“The kitchen and whole building is inhabited by ghosts, but in a good way,” McLean says. “Stuff would start banging around in the middle of the night.”
Art flows from her mind, heart and her kitchen. It finds its way in from everywhere else on earth. In other words, art happens where and when it happens and the artist captures it on canvas or sculpture or music or with a pen.
“Everyone has creativity flowing through them,” McLean says. “It could be building or painting, business or athletics. Creativity comes in all different forms.”