Mancos pop-up gallery introduces Back Roads Collective

Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017 5:47 PM
Petra Sullwood, chiropractor at the River Studio in Mancos, and owner of the studio, Katherine Dobson, served mulled wine to Charolette Lenssen from Durango.
A string quartet performs during Mancos’ Grand Winter Nights kick off.
Cody the dog poses festively while Jan Wright, owner of Artisans of Mancos, laughs in the background.
Mancos kicks off its grand Winter Nights events.
Kid’s story hour at the Beehive in Mancos.
Jaime Becktel, a volunteer at The Painted Turtle in Mancos, paints 6-year-old Carly Kroll’s face on Friday night.
The Begays sheer their own sheep and wind their own materials for the rugs Sarah Begay weaves.
Erica Holm and Alys Hansen made free glass ornaments at The Painted Turtle in Mancos.
Sarah Begay, from the Navajo Reservation, gives a weaving display at Kilgore American Indian Art Gallery.
Veryl Goodnight, of Veryl Goodnight Gallery in Mancos, gives a painting demonstration on Saturday.
Dylan Steerman, 10, gets some assistance making his own ornament from Dolores Mountain Quilters member Janey Schur from south of Cortez.
Sarah Begay holds up freshly made wool she will soon weave into a rug.
Janet Oliver, of Durango, shops for books at Mancos Library’s “Library Makers Day and Bookstore” on Saturday.
Stacy Linn Brown gives a presentation about volcanoes outside The Painted Turtle in Mancos.
Hannah VanMeter of Mancos participates in Fahrenheit Coffee Roaster’s free “make your own holiday card” program on Saturday.
Mancos kicked off its Grand Winter Nights on Friday night with many festivities on Grand Avenue.

One of the art shows that opened in Mancos Friday night as part of the Creative District’s Christmas celebration was a temporary pop-up gallery featuring rural art with a contemporary twist.

The three-day Renegade Holiday Arts Show, held at HelloZark Studio on Main Street, marked the debut of the Back Roads Collective, a group of 10 like-minded artists from Montezuma County. Their styles varied, from pottery to painting to sculpture, and so did their experience, since the group included some veterans of the Western art scene and some newcomers. T.J. Zark, the Collective’s founder and owner of HelloZark, hopes to make this the first of a regular series of Back Roads pop-up galleries.

“There are a lot of artists that aren’t showing in town yet, and we wanted to give them an opportunity,” Zark said.

Rosie Carter, a Cortez artist who helped form the group, said the Collective is an informal group for now, but its members are united by a love for the Western world in which they live and a desire to create new things.

“We’re hoping this is going to be the start of something,” she said. “We really have a contemporary bend, bringing new ideas to a rural area and bringing a rural area to new ideas.”

Carter was one of the gallery’s more experienced artists. She has been selling “farm-inspired” embroidery, handmade goods and other artwork online through her Home and Range business since 2014, and she opened a brick-and-mortar art gallery in Cortez earlier this year. Most of the work she displayed at the Renegade show was a collaboration with Dave Butler, who specializes in collecting old scrap metal and other materials that Carter uses to create sculptures. Their joint projects on display included a lamp made from a motorcycle fender and a country landscape made from embroidery and an old tin ceiling.

“Anything that’s old is interesting to me,” Butler said. “This was kind of right up my alley.”

Butler and Carter have been working together for about a year, and their collaborations have appeared in a few other galleries around the Four Corners. But not everyone in the show could claim that experience. Mancos jewelry artist Todd Kearns said he had never shown his work in a gallery before.

“I’m a little nervous, I guess, but everyone’s so friendly,” he said. “I enjoy showing my stuff.”

He has been making jewelry to sell online for about two years, he said, after he was inspired to get into the craft by the Native American artists he works with at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.

Another relative newcomer was Carol Mehesy, who has been creating encaustics–textured paintings made from hot wax–for two years. Most of the paintings she showed at the pop-up gallery were inspired by farm buildings in Montezuma County. She started painting in this style after spending many years away from art, she said.

“I liked the permissiveness of it – since it’s never going to be perfect, it gives me permission not to be perfect,” she said. “And then, I’ve always been drawn to architecture and the feeling of architecture, so that’s why I was drawn to these subjects.”

The studio was crowded Friday night, and a few works of art had already sold by the end of the evening. Pottery artist Janette Harrel said the show had already helped her before it opened, by giving her an incentive to work harder and create more pottery dishes.

The Renegade gallery would remain on display through Sunday. It featured work from Rosie Carter, Dave Butler, Janette Harrel, Todd Kearns, Carol Mehesy, Heather Leavitt Martinez, Julia Bordeman, T.J. Zark, Kendra Mackenback and Fairlight Whritner. Zark and Carter said the group is already brainstorming ideas for the next Back Roads Collective pop-up gallery, which they hope to hold in the spring.

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Guests examine Carol Mehesy’s encaustic paintings during the “Renegade Holiday Arts Show” at HelloZark Studio in Mancos.
One of Rosie Carter and Dave Butler’s sculptures on display at the pop-up gallery at HelloZark Studio.