The many medium of women’s art
A stunning Italian woman gestures about a room filled with oil paintings, wood sculptures, metal creations – all possible mediums of art.
“I want to give the idea that art is not limited to one medium,” she says, scanning the room. “Here, there are so many messages in so many different mediums. It is not the medium that matters, it’s the message. It’s not the bottle that counts, it’s the message in the bottle.”
This astute philosopher is Simone Fodde-Crotzer, director of the Collaborative Art Gallery in Eagle-Vail. She is debuting a new collection of diverse pieces with only one thing in common – they are all by women.
“These are such great female talents,” said Fodde-Crotzer. “Each artist is so thematically different. You see political statements, you see statements about nature, you see the expression of creativity in free form. I have been out in the galleries researching for a long time to find the right artists for this show.”
The research certainly paid off. The small gallery is filled with as much visual sensationalism as could possibly fit in the room. Bright abstract murals. Tall, polished wooden sculptures. Oil paintings featuring startling symbolism of female oppression. One might not know where to start.
Which is where Fodde-Crotzer comes in. Passionate about each piece in the gallery, she is both informative and engaging, knowledgeable and graciously accepting of others input.
She is the ultimate tour guide.
The first stop seems to be Fodde-Crotzer’s favorite. Not surprising considering her penchant for diversity in medium, she is infinitely passionate about the many-faceted artist Laurel Swab. A sculptor, a self-taught painter and an uninhibited feminist, Swab’s pieces are one focal point of the exhibit.
“She uses symbolism so well, she uses metaphors as a door to a higher meaning,” says Fodde-Crotzer.
Swab’s sculptures are completely unique. “The Heart Shield” features horse bone, metal, wood and, in the center, a startling green stone heart. The effect is breathtaking.
Swab’s paintings feature individuals of indeterminate gender, always bald, often slightly disturbing in nature and presentation. Yet that very unsettling aspect of the art is, according to Fodde-Crotzer, what draws many to it. As they say, different strokes for different folks, which is why Fodde-Crotzer chose such varied talent for her show.
“Swab’s art is disturbing to some, but it’s liberating to others,” she says. “Some people are uncomfortable with that much awareness. People come to art for different reasons – some want to decorate walls. And that is fine, it is great, but others have a dire necessity from day one to explore.”
And there is no limit to the exploration that can be done at the Art Collaborative. The second stop is before a a multi-media canvas featuring iron bars and text.
“The bars are the experiences which have shaped us in our lives,” says Fodde-Crotzer of a piece called “Follow Your Bliss” by an artist named Cha Cha. “The point she makes is that these experiences are not all that you are. You are limitless. “Break out of your cage,’ she is saying. Find your field of unlimited possibilities.”
Stop three is gazing at photographs that look almost like mathematical patterns.
“As a molecular biologist, her message is one of the power of nature, it does not carry the political tones of Swab,” says Fodde-Crotzer gesturing to the photos of artist Nurit Wolf. “She conveys a strong sense of nature reorganizing chaos with repetition and patterns.”
A woman unwraps large wooden frames against another wall. The frames feature oil paint textured by everything from shattered glass to sand. The art is emotional, raw, stripped. The woman is artist Dodi Klutznick, yet another contributor, and she will be stop four of the day.
“My paintings turn out with an emotional richness,” said Klutznick. “I don’t plan on creating it, it just comes out. It’s kind of scary, but I love it.”
And her creation process, she says, is as ubiquitous as the final product.
“I can’t plan it ahead of time, it doesn’t exist until I start doing it. The rest just comes as is comes. It’s in my control, but it takes over sometimes.”
Four stops, and the senses are almost full, with much to ponder. Not to mention, much penny-counting to do in the hopes that one of these pieces may find a stop on your wall.
A short visit will only afford a taste of the feast offered up at the Collaborative Art Gallery’s most recent exhibit. The gallery is located next to Scully’s in Eagle-Vail.
Sarah Dixon is a freelance writer based in Vail.