Three fresh artists to visit at Art on the Rockies in Edwards | VailDaily.com

Three fresh artists to visit at Art on the Rockies in Edwards

Caramie Schnell
cschnell@vaildaily.com

One corner of Edwards has morphed into an art lover's dream this weekend, as Art on the Rockies returns to Colorado Mountain College. The festival kicked off Friday and continues through Sunday. Sponsored by the Vail Valley Arts League, the festival brings 130 carefully curated artists to town. While we'd love to feature each of these talented folks, space does not allow, so we chose three fresh festival faces who are making art that's as beautiful as it is intriguing.

VIC LEE: 'The energy of all that is'

Idaho-based artist Vic Lee (he paints under the name of Lynden St. Victor) doesn't consider himself a painter or a fine artist, but rather an illustrator. With no formal training, Lee began creating art in 2002. With his work, he tells stories of his journey through life, including "the speedbumps, the ditches, the hilltops and briar patches," he said.

"You fall down, you get up, you tell the story. I just share it through images," said Lee, who paints in mixed media first. He does very detailed sketches, which are then printed on canvas and painted with ink wash acrylics.

In Lee's work, you'll see beautiful, stylized women with distorted proportions ala Tim Burton: large eyes, short torsos and long legs. And there's plenty of social commentary at work. Take for instance the "Descent of Sophia," in which Sophia represents the Goddess of Wisdom from ancient Hebrew culture. Lee includes the story behind each painting.

"As the story goes, Sophia is a perfect spiritual being at bliss in the cosmos representing the soul. But she does not recognize the beauty of her true nature so she descends to the earthly plane to experience all of life's trials, both bitter and sweet. During her journey, she travels to the depths of despair as a prostitute only to be reminded of the joy she once knew."

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In the piece, Sophia is wearing aviator headgear, which signifies her journey. She's presented a balloon to a little robot whose midsection is a birdcage. Blackbirds fly from the cage, while two lovebirds remain cuddled together inside the cage in the shape of a heart.

"The idea is that love is the energy of all that is," he said.

Origins are a common theme in Lee's work; he likes to go back to the very beginning of the spiritual traditions held today.

"Mostly what is going to happen to us when we die," he said. "I don't necessarily comment on that, because who knows."

MITCH BERG: 'An idea artist'

Longtime Santa Fe artist Mitch Berg creates what he's termed "wild glass folk art" using objects he discovers everywhere from nearby river beds to abandoned buildings and thrifts stores. He first got the idea of incorporating found objects while walking his dogs along the bed of the Santa Fe River, which near his home is generally dry until it rains, then "lots of the junk from town washes down," he said. "There was an old landfill above my house that was decommissioned. The water cuts through and pulls stuff down that's perfectly preserved and perfectly rusted: construction materials, car parts, bike parts. Even today I walked down there and found half a bike wheel that I'm going to use in my work right away." But that doesn't mean you'll see a bike wheel immediately.

Berg calls his work alchemy: he's "attempting to transform the way people look at things," he said. "If they look at a bike wheel in my work, they see something else and then they're like, 'oh, that's a bike wheel.'"

While most glass artists tend to treat glass as a precious material, Berg views it as a playful material and uses a looser style, melting metal wire and copper into layers of glass so he can attach it to other objects.

"If you go to school, they'll tell you its something you can't really do," he said. "I figured it out, and it was an accident."

In his junkyard, Berg uses welding and woodworking equipment to bring the ideas in his head to fruition.

"My studio is the 'ideatorium.' I can go in with any idea and turn it into a 3D sculpture. I don't consider myself a glass artist, I'm really an idea artist just trying to make meaning in this crazy world we're living in."

Berg's creations often tell a story, but it's generally a fairly lighthearted story. "I take very serious things and make fun of them. Everything is so serious now; you can't ignore it but if you look at it fully, you realize how absurd it is and you just have to laugh at it. Which is what I do in three-dimensional terms."

Take for instance a recent piece where a man wearing a rainbow coat is rising out of an old Prince Albert tobacco can, which according to Berg is a take on the current issue of gay marriage.

""It's very pun based and also based in serious topics," he said.

SONDRA WAMPLER: Nature reclaims Earth

Inspired by what she sees in her dreams, Sondra Wampler makes digital collages that imagine scenarios where nature, and her beasts, reclaim the Earth. Her works feature recognizable landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to less recognizable, but still architecturally interesting spots. Wampler started as a still life photographer, exploring the "architecture of plant detail, from simple weeds to complex flowers and leaves" with stunning, black and white large-scale photographs — essentially creating plant portraits.

In 2004, Wampler started experimenting with her own images, creating surreal, otherworldly collages.

"The first piece 'Alucinor' was born when the opportunity to photograph a red-tail hawk up close with its great wings spread wide was given to me. I began pulling images that would relate to my vision from my vast library that I had created over the past 30 years. What I soon realized was that as I created one piece, several more were born as if by osmosis. I allowed myself to create from a subconscious level that led me on a path of discovery."

She started her latest series, called "In Paradise," in 2014.

"The word paradise originates from the Greek word 'para'deisos,' which conveys the meaning of a beautiful park-like garden," she said. "Each piece in the series places a figure from art history 'in paradise,' where all living creatures are at peace and harmony with one another."

The pieces convey Wampler's love of art history and the figure by re-sampling work by great artists into her own imagery, changing the context of the piece.

"I find it starts an interesting dialogue with the viewer, (who) sometimes don't quite know why a piece seems familiar," Wampler said.

While some folks find Wampler's work to be "post apocalyptic," she finds it rather peaceful, she said.

"On first glance, one may think this new imagery is the complete opposite of the botanical works I am known for and one may be correct," she said. "However it relates to the botanicals in that it addresses similar themes found in nature with all its complexities of form, texture and, of course, the environment."

If you go …

What: Art on the Rockies.

Where: Colorado Mountain College, Edwards.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sunday.

Cost: Free.

More information: There’s a free children’s art tent where kids can make kites and do other fun projects. There will be onsite vendors serving food, wine and beer as well as ice cream. Be sure and check out the free silent auction, the proceeds of which are donated to the Vail Valley Arts League to support the children’s art tent. Visit http://www.vailartsfest.com.