Show Preview | Inner Journey/Visual Experience

Denver, CO
Gallery 1261, April 25-May 31

Daniel Keys, 5th Avenue Twilight, oil, 16 x 16.

Daniel Keys, 5th Avenue Twilight, oil, 16 x 16.

This story was featured in the May 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

“Part of the fun of having a curatorial role in a gallery is getting the chance to introduce great new talent to the art world,” declares Quang Ho, artist and curator at Denver’s Gallery 1261. In this month’s show, titled Inner Journey/Visual Experience, four emerging artists—Daniel Keys, Mia Bergeron, Mikael Olson, and Robin Cole Smith—present diverse responses to the intertwined themes of nature, spirituality, and the inner world of the psyche. The exhibition opens with an artists’ reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on April 25 and runs through May 31.

Mia Bergeron’s newest figurative paintings explore the visual and metaphoric places where information has been left out. While inviting the viewer to “connect the dots” in intriguing and sometimes enigmatic portraits, the 33-year-old artist discovers unexpected insights by creating these works. The self-portrait LOSS, for example, emerged following her traumatic first encounter with a bipolar episode in a loved one. Paradoxically, Bergeron found that facing her deep anxiety about mental illness brought a sense of lightness through the dissipation of that fear. “Loss, in this case, signifies both something sadly exciting and also the strength that comes with surviving trauma,” she says.

Denver-based painter Mikael Olson finds himself drawn to “almost random” sights in daily life, which inspire his expressive still-life, figurative, and urban scenes. In much of the 41-year-old artist’s current work, texture, movement, and complex quasi-monochromatic hues take precedence over subject matter, as if softening the eye’s focus to view the “bigger picture and abstract patterns of light and dark,” Olson explains. “I’m going deeper into this approach to find the visual dialogue of value, texture, and shape.”

For Robin Cole Smith, the natural world serves as the “original, exquisitely sensitive mirror” to our own human wildness and inner terrain. Smith’s delicate, poetic imagery in graphite and encaustic—with the recently added dimension of tonal color—reflects the 28-year-old artist’s desire to create from a deeply intuitive place. “My goal with this work, and as an artist in general,” she relates, “is not only to pay tribute to these parts of myself, but perhaps more importantly, to begin to respond to the world instinctively, to fully and meaningfully inhabit my social and ecological niche.”

California native Daniel Keys, also 28, is best known for his still-life paintings. In this show, however, he presents his most diverse group of new works to date. Among them: a New York cityscape, a snow scene, a landscape featuring aspens, and a still life with a ram’s skull. Gallery 1261 follows a model of encouraging complete artistic freedom, Keys says, adding, “It facilitates tremendous creativity.” While the four artists bring a range of perspectives and styles to 
the show, they have in common that each has been honored in recent years in Southwest Art’s annual “21 Under 31” feature. “They’re all different in their approaches and concepts, but all are top-notch artists,” observes Ho. “It is bound to be a terrific mix of visual ideas.” 
—Gussie Fauntleroy

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Featured in the May 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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