Animal art brings sense of life to gallery

Feb. 21 reception chosen following earlier weather delay

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The Littleton Fine Arts Guild postponed its opening reception for the “Animals, Tame and Wild” exhibit due to snow. The reception will now be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 21 at the Guild’s Depot Art Gallery, 2069 W. Powers Ave., downtown Littleton, in the cozy red gallery that has been home to the guild’s many members for years after really serving the city as a railroad depot.

The building’s busy 19th-century period was followed by a period of sitting alone in what became known as Bega Park, awaiting a new role in Littleton’s scene. The Guild raised money and obtained a grant in 1976, the Bicentennial year, to restore it and the late Varian Ashbaugh moved the building to its present site north of the Buck Recreation Center — and still near railroad tracks. Members scrubbed and polished and now volunteer to host guests when the gallery is open. (The building is owned by the City of Littleton.)

This animal art exhibit would be an ideal way to introduce children to the many ways an artist can tell a story: watercolors, oils, painted glass, hand-painted silk scarves, prints, drawings, bronze sculpture (Forrest Plesko’s “As Good as Gold,”) and combinations of technique. There’s sure more than one way to create an image (and not any particular “right way” to do so).

Members’ entries were juried by Sandra Jean Ceas, whose work will be found just inside the front door. We assume she will attend the rescheduled reception if available. It’s always fun to hear a juror speak about how they assemble an exhibit. What do they look for? Because the gallery is not very large, one doesn’t find many big artworks here, and the ways in which they are presented and skill with which they are rendered still varies greatly.

An old wooden table in the entry room holds a collection of painted glass vases and other forms, in bright hues — the work of artist Chris Schranck — such as “Fish on Red Vase.” It’s really hard not to stroke these! Also on that table: some delicate fiber baskets, reminiscent of softly hued rag rugs. They are crafted by Kathy Meyers.

Jeff Velarde’s “Made in the Shade,” the largest canvas in the exhibit, shows a sunlit terracotta tile floor, with fancy chairs providing shade for the resident fur person. Nice example of painting skill with numerous textures and colors. One would like to stop by for tea in this space …

Walk a bit farther and find Carl Paulson’s “Lunch,” a bright-eyed critter with a mouth full of green leaves. On that same theme, several folks sit at an outdoor café are surveyed by a pudgy pooch — “What’s for Lunch?” is Pat Dall’s title. And then, there’s Loren Gilbert’s majestic blue heron wading and obviously searching for the aforementioned lunch.

One thinks of “Lions and tigers and bears … oh my!” But here there are also eagles and egrets and elegant blue herons, as well as more than one in-charge sort of domestic feline, mysterious wolves, a roly-poly panda and Joe Bonita’s photograph, “Synthetic Zebra,” which stares at the visitor who walks to the back room in the gallery. Nearby is his vision of Serengeti plains in subdued, sun-baked tones. One imagines it to be full of wild creatures …

Jill Quillan contributes a perky “Roadrunner” as a wall piece, in addition to her brilliantly colored painted silk scarves, which would provide one with a nice pick-up on a wintery day. She says “Life is short — buy silk!”

Dee Chalkey’s handmade miniature books include vintage images printed on poly clay on the covers. Also in the back room is Karen Shaw’s pleasing monotype print, “Song Birds,” which creates a birdsong in one’s imagination immediately.

Several members create handsome jewelry that might make a new outfit with a favorite dress or jacket — or call for a specific new color to show it at its best. These pieces sell well so there are always new artworks to contemplate when the art lover stops by for a visit. Admission is free.

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