Monday, July 25, 2011

Laramie biennial artists weld and draw and sculpt paper

David L. Jones and Diana Baumbach live around the corner from each other in an historic Laramie neighborhood.

But as far as their art is concerned, they may as well live on different planets.

David makes barns and grain silos and working models of oil rigs. His cramped home studio looks more like your grandpa's garage workshop than it does a place for fine art. In one corner sits a massive toolbox. Scattered about the studio are drills and saws and various implements of construction (growing up, David got a new tool each Christmas from Santa). On the walls are photos of abandoned car dealerships and an illustration of an oil refinery. Stacked against the wall are pieces of a hand-made set for a Hollywood western that will someday serve as both an art installation and a set for a film.

Over at Diana's spacious campus studio, she pokes holes in paper with a tiny pin. Lots and lots of tiny holes, over and over again. She works with paper and designs delicate sculptures and wall hangings. She just returned from Holland where she install an exhibit of her work that had been scaled down to fit the space.

Diana's husband, Shelby Shadwell, is another Laramie artist who will be featured in the fellowship biennial which opens Nov. 4 in Jackson. He was out of town during our July 21 swing through Laramie. He had just finished a residency at The Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, Utah. He and University of Wyoming Art Department colleagues David Jones and Patrick Kikut spent several weeks working on projects inspired by the desert heat and the nearby remains of a Cold War Air Force base that includes the hanger that housed the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb.

According to Diana, Shelby grew up in the Midwest and had never seen mountains before arriving in Wyoming. That may be one of the reasons why his "Low Pressure" drawings are based on WYDOT winter web cam views of locations along I-80. Some of his WAC fellowship-winning entries, "Economy," feature drawings of truck traffic along I-80. Snow and ice and careless drivers help make the interstate stretch from Laramie to Rawlins the most-often closed section of highway in the country. Laramie is the perfect perch to watch this drama unfold.

Shelby's latest work is featured in an exhibit in the 222 Shelby Street Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M.

Photos (top to bottom):
1. David Jones (left), a 2010 WAC visual arts fellowship recipient, tells Nancy Bowen about his art installations that include barns and silos (shown on ground).
2. Diana Baumbach, an honorable mention in the 2010 WAC visual arts fellowship competition, shows her work on paper to fellowship curator Nancy Bowen.
3. "Divider," by Diana Baumbach
4. "Economy" by Shelby Shadwell, Charcoal, pastel, graphite on paper on panel, 22"x15"

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