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Three new winter exhibits to warm the soul

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Presented by Gilpin County Arts Association

By Cynthia Moe-Crist

Virgina Unseld, a well-known Gilpin County artist, has a new show opening at the Gilpin County Arts Association Washington Hall Gallery in Central City on February 20th.  “Navigations: a year of quARanTine,” gives voice to her explorations of a world closed to wandering, a world restricted to her own backyard, photos, and imagination. Unseld has always embraced a variety of media, challenging herself to explore new techniques, new ideas, and new interpretations of what she has learned. The work in this show, all completed during the pandemic, showcases her talent to use media as diverse as hearing aid batteries, cold wax, paint, and old sewing patterns.

The cornerstone of the show is an altered book started years ago and then abandoned. Finished when the pandemic cancelled other plans, “Navigations” became an inspiration to explore the world vicariously while maintaining a sense of direction.

Using the Washington Hall Gallery as a studio for the last few months, Unseld has executed a series of large acrylic paintings based on photos taken when travel was a part of her life. They are colorful, vibrant, and bold interpretations of landscapes in New Mexico, Alaska, Croatia, Colorado, and beyond. They express a love of places around the world she has explored. These paintings fill the large gallery space.

A series of landscapes completed with cold wax and oil paint applied over layers of sewing patterns and topographic maps are an interpretation of the woods in winter. Simple, and revealing, Unseld describes them as visual haiku. Like haiku, each painting invites the viewer into a quiet moment of breathless recognition. They are displayed in the stone room that still serves as her working studio.

Paired with the images of winter woods are acrylic paintings of bird feathers that were found during morning walks. They are remnants of our natural world, visual reminders of the freedom to fly freely that some of us desperately crave right now.

Unseld shares space in this show with two other talented Colorado artists. Denver photographer Roger Doak celebrates the spectacular beauty of the West in a series of large photographs he has entitled “Captured – Moments in Nature.” Evergreen artist, Maggie Smiley, a former Gilpin County art teacher, has created a new collection of functional stoneware pottery which is wheel thrown and manipulated. Smiley, recently named the studio director of the Colorado Potters Guild, has titled her new collection, “Resurgence: a new beginning.”

All three artists will have their work on display from February 20th through March 27th, at the Washington Hall Gallery. Gallery hours are Thursday – Sunday from 11:00 – 4:00.

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