Wealth of art in the neighborhood | VailDaily.com
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Wealth of art in the neighborhood

Andrew Harley/Daily Staff Writer
Special to the Daily/Leslie FicklingSusie Allen's "Avon Calling" serves as a good example of the exhibit's mesmerizing qualities.
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It reads like a dating service’s list of possible matches.

A firefighter, a heavy machine operator, public works department workers, a code enforcement officer and the list goes on of town of Vail employees with exceptional artistic talents.

The first-ever town of Vail employee art exhibition is currently in progress – ending Saturday, Jan. 31, in the Vail Library Community Room. The show features 15 artists, with works ranging from watercolors, acrylics and photography to ceramics, beadwork, sculpture and woodcarving.

“I think Suzanne Silverthorn (the town of Vail’s community information officer) said something interesting after reading the descriptions of all of the artists and being so impressed by the work of all the town employees: “It must be that creativity that contributes to the town of Vail being such a wonderful place to work,'” said Leslie Fickling, art in public places coordinator for the town of Vail.

Fickling organized the exhibit, which was inspired by a similar production she attended in Chapel Hill, N.C. And, what began as a notion has turned into quite a successful reality through the excitement and talents of a large turnout of local working artists.

“I’m very impressed with how enthusiastic the town employees were about taking part, and with the amount of thought they put into what was hung,” said Fickling. “There was so much enthusiasm this year that if we see the same enthusiasm next year, we might have to jury the show.”

With the varied captivating works in this exhibit, had a jury been necessary the decisions would have been very tough.

Among the most immediate attractions is public works department employee Rick Gregory’s lamp made from trash cans – Gregory is a trained artist. Code enforcement officer Haley Rollins uses old window frames to frame her paintings. Finance department employee Gina Bentz showcases her 10 years of jewelry craftsmanship.

Jim Spell, fire and emergency services captain, reveals his philosophical drawings, “Ontology of the Universe parts I and II.” Jennifer Butler, also a member of the finance department, shares some figure studies.

A showcase toward the back of the room contains Janeil Turnbull’s “Folk Box,” an intricately painted, cylindrical, wooden container. The case also displays Dean Woltz’s ceramic work, “Anastasi Pot,” Donald Gallegos’s word carvings – “Franciscan” and “Saint Joseph” – and Todd Oppenheimer’s studies of trout – in the form of woodcarvings.

The final three items in the case belong to the Hervert family. Jim Hervert, who has worked for the town since 1986, shares two wooden pieces – a magic wand and a miniature pool cue. Jim’s 12-year-old son, Clint Hervert, managed to fit many lovely hues of blue into a ceramic bowl.

Other notable artists include bus driver Cheryl Roberts, town administrator Dale Harpe and Tracy Gordon.

Susie Allen, town of Vail Police Sgt. Mark Allen’s wife, added some of the most captivating pieces. The human subjects of Susie Allen’s four pieces end up being a family of sorts, with a man at work, a woman applying makeup, a little girl enjoying a bite to eat in the grass and a vibrant painting of a young boy titled “Steven.”

“The library lighting doesn’t do everyone’s work justice. If the convention center ever gets built, it will be nice to have the exhibit there,” said Fickling.

The artist turnout and the concept of the show are solid, and the only major complaint is that the quality of the art is too great for the venue. So, this year’s show is well on its way to being the first of many.

Andrew Harley can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 610, or at aharley@vaildaily.com.


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