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Vail Valley art: Death, framed

Caramie Schnell
cschnell@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyVail Valley artist Amy Dose explains the inspiration behind her paintings for the "Thinning of the Veils" art exhibit on display this month at the Avon library.
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VAIL VALLEY, Colorado –Though the Virgin Mary is a skeleton enveloped in bright orange flames, she’s still smiling in Vail Valley artist Robin Nash’s painting, “Nuestra Sra de los Muertos” or “Our Lady of the Dead.”

“It’s a very traditional depiction of Mary, but with a few tweaks – artistic license, if you will,” Nash said. “Instead of clouds, I did fire. The serpent has a mane on its head. I always love how peaceful she looks when she’s vanquishing the serpent.”

The painting, along with nearly 20 other pieces, is on display in the Avon Library’s community room this month. It took only a quick glance at the pieces, leaning next to each other against the library wall on Thursday, to see the show’s theme – a tribute to Halloween and the Day of the Dead. The Eagle Valley Artists Alliance is hosting the exhibit, which will be on display through Oct. 30. An artist reception, which will include a free kids craft and jack-o-latern carving contest, is set for Oct. 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.



Alliance member Amy Dose has two pieces in the show, including one titled “Ancestors.” The painting is dominated by a simple house. In one room, an old family picture is barely visible beneath layers of white, making it appear ghostly.

“That’s my family,” Dose said in her slightly southern accent. “It’s actually my great-grandmother and my great aunt … I feel like even though we’re not directly influenced by our ancestors, they’re a part of us.”



Dose spent time with both her great-grandmother and her great aunt before they passed away, she said. Before she died, Dose’s great-grandmother started keeping a diary, writing down even the most mundane events. In the background of the painting, glimspes of words are visible.

“I started copying down her words, trying to connect with her,” Dose explained. “This piece has layers upon layers.”

Recently people have been telling Dose that her work is getting progressively darker, she said. She admitted they’re right, and called it a “phase.”



And anyway, “just because things are dark doesn’t mean they’re bad, it’s just part of human nature,” she said.

Avon resident Jenny Eliuk is showing a digital photograph of a skull in the exhibit. It’s her first time ever participating in an art show, she said. The photo was taken at the museum at the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings. Since Eliuk’s father, Nick, died from cancer in January, her photos have focused on death, she said.

She’s been especially fascinated by the constant cycle of life and death in nature. During a recent online class, many people were taking and posting photos of brightly blooming flowers, meanwhile she was snapping shots of dead and dying blooms.

“I really thought the pictures of dead flowers were more interesting,” she said. “It really gave us some perspective on the same flower. When the flower was alive, it was bright and beautiful, but it loses its value once it’s dead.”

Though photography started out as a way of distracting herself from the grief, it also helped her to heal.

“I’ve been trying to accept death as a part of everyday life,” Eliuk said. “My father’s death was extremely hard on me and (photography) has helped me to focus on it and accept it. I had to face it head on in order to deal with it.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

What: Thinning of the Veils: Unleashing the prenatural muse art exhibit

When: Through Oct. 30; Artist reception set for Oct. 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Where: Avon Library community room

More information: E-mail eaglevalleyartists@gmail.com


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