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|October 16-22, 2008
Point of view
Local artists reveal their personal lives and raise money for a worthy cause
by Barbara Byrnes-Lenarcic
The artworks on view at Logan’s Espresso Café each tell a story. But they are not a quick read. Patience is required to pick up the plot. The View From Here features black-and-white photographs by Davis Phinney and acrylic/mixed media works by Boulder artist Maria Neary. The show is the newest installment in glass artist Mary Barron’s continuing series called the “Year of Giving Back,” where exhibiting artists donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their works to a nonprofit of their choice. Barron curates the shows at Logan’s. Neary and Phinney chose the Davis Phinney Foundation as the recipient for their art sales. Mercury Framing donated the framing of Phinney’s works.
Founded in 2004 by Phinney, a former professional cyclist, the Davis Phinney Foundation funds collaborative medical research to help people with Parkinson’s disease improve their quality of life. The foundation is especially interested in the neurological benefits of exercise on Parkinson’s patients. In 2000, at the age of 40, Phinney was diagnosed with Parkinson’s.
Phinney’s six landscape photographs that are each titled “photograph” are on the right wall as you enter Logan’s. Each work is framed in black with a white mat. The views are up or down a trail, a road or a scene that comes from Phinney spending much of his life on a bike.
Shooting in black-and-white propels Phinney back to the days when his dad taught him to process and print film in his darkroom. “I am an aesthetic and look for beauty in things, especially nature, as did my father, and in this series, I honor my dad, who loved nothing more than to head out alone, up the road or trail, off and into the mountains, “ said Phinney in an artist statement.
Phinney’s photograph of the Flatirons in winter is stunning. The sky is slate gray. A white veil hangs across the mountains. A dusting of snow and a hint of sunlight add nuances to the scene.
Moving along the wall, a look at the third photograph reveals elegant moodiness. Framed by trees, a tiny black figure has her back to the viewer. She stands on a rocky ridge looking out. A sliver of silver water is on the right. A silver-white sky with white cloud strands blends into the water. Phinney’s mesmerizing moment may be eternally imprinted on your psyche.
Neary’s seven grid works are located on the left side and on the back wall of the café. The paintings contain a whimsical collection of black birds, letters, numbers, phrases, white mesh and tiny pages copied from books. The artist, who gives herself assignments, began the grid series in the spring. Over time, Neary has enlarged the squares, broken the grid and added journaling to the artistic mix.
A former animator for Sesame Street, Neary now uses her own words and images to tell her tale. Neary’s paintings are enriched by mental sketches from walks around Boulder Reservoir, insects, houses and pages from engineering and music books belonging to her husband, Ryan, who was killed in a plane crash in Utah in 1999.
Neary’s painting process begins with a meditative exercise in her north Boulder studio. She prepares the paper or canvas for up to 10 hours by applying layer upon layer of paint. She then adds a molding paste for texture, more paint and then fills in the grid. Neary sometimes removes paint revealing the yellow and ochre oxide underneath a layer.
“I am peeling away all that takes up space in my life. I am left with what I need,” Neary said. “I collect things, but they have to be mine and have importance and value in my story.”
“What Were They Trying To Tell Us,” a black, white and gray grid starts out with a row of hands and a row of buttons. Then, it goes off into squares filled with words, birds, airplanes and clocks. A row of 11 photographs of Neary’s husband’s classmates in 1956 takes the viewer to another time. The children appear to be trying to fit into a world whirling with change.
In “Waiting,” the squares are larger and the images — black birds, triangles, wish bones and a compass — are randomly placed in the grid for a free, loose look into the dialogue going on in Neary’s brain when she created the painting.
“My Observations” and “and then when the time came” are two companion pieces where the grid expands and breaks. A journal entry is written at the bottom of each work and the text/message is scattered across the first half of each painting challenging viewers to solve a mystery.
Phinney’s photographs and Neary’s paintings are a visual gift to viewers and a financial boost to a nonprofit that offers hope to Parkinson’s patients and their loved ones.
On the Bill:
The View From Here will be on display through Dec. 4 at Logan’s Expresso Café, 3980 Broadway, Boulder, 303-443-3600. For more information about the Davis Phinney Foundation, call 303-733-3340 or go to www.davisphinneyfoundation.com.
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