Yellow Jacket artists Rosie Carter and David Butler will open their first joint art show at the Olio restaurant Saturday.
The two have been collaborating for about 1½ years to create three-dimensional artworks out of salvaged materials, drawings and prints, which they’ve displayed at various galleries in the Four Corners area.
Carter works with paint, screen printing and pen and ink out of her Home and Range studio in Cortez, while Butler’s skill with welding and metalworking provides the 3D aspect of their art. Their Olio exhibit, titled “Bird Songs and Other Happy Accidents,” will feature 19 new pieces, along with a few they’ve displayed elsewhere.
Carter said birds have always played an important part in her work, and her recent stint as Mesa Verde National Park’s artist-in-residence gave her plenty of opportunity to observe local species and their songs. Some of the pieces on display at the Olio will depict different Colorado, and others are attempts to capture birdsong itself in shape and color.
Carter’s favorite piece, she said, is a lit sculpture called “Careless Wind.”
“It involves a wild mess of wire coming out of an old part of a fender,” she said. “There are birds attached to the wires, which was a theme in my old work, so that was fun to revisit.”
Butler, who’s been collecting old metal parts since he was 5 years old, said he doesn’t have a favorite piece of art. For him, the joy is in watching scrap metal turn into something else.
“We love the idea of being able to take something that somebody has thrown away, and being able to repurpose or recycle that into something useful and beautiful that somebody wants to put in their house,” he said. “That’s a great feeling, especially in today’s throwaway society.”
Both artists, who collectively call themselves The Rural Electric Underground, said collaborating has opened up new creative possibilities for them, and they plan to continue their partnership indefinitely.
Carter and Butler do most of their joint work in a Quonset hut in Yellow Jacket, built with military surplus materials. According to their artist statement, they use the building as inspiration for recycling old materials into art.
“We strive to imbue these new pieces with the same beauty and impeccable craftsmanship of the source objects,” the statement said. “Presenting old things in a new light, we traverse the space between nostalgia and the strange.”
Carter and Butler often build large, freestanding sculptures like the lighted cactus that adorned the Home and Range studio last year, but Carter said most of the pieces in the “Bird Songs” exhibit will be wall hangings, because of the restaurant’s limited floor space.
The show will be on display in the Olio’s dining room through Aug. 4. A free reception for the artists will be held at the restaurant from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday.