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Art Stalk: Import & export for a fertile desert valley

Camille Silverman
ART STALK
Free Press Columnist
Adele Alsop in shown in her homebase of Castle Valley, Utah.
Submitted photo |

I’ve been busy — sorting through my exhibition pictures, museum travels and studio visit shots; and it is evident, as Lou Reed once said, “my week is your year.”

I am finding that the desert is fertile with artists like Adele Alsop out of Castle Valley, Utah. She lives only 100 miles from Grand Junction and studied with Elaine deKooning and Alex Katz at University of Pennsylvania. Louis Kahn was also there as the head of the architecture department; she has stories you would drool over.

As I am walking around her house and see an old accordion on the couch: “Hey Adele, my mom played the accordion in Higginsville, Mo.,” and she lets me know that the accordion was given to her by filmmaker Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Basquiat, Before Night Falls, etc.). Wow, really!



Her paintings are beautiful, swirly, and unencumbered by rules of composition. When I had a painting of hers in the gallery of The Western Colorado Center for the Arts in Grand Junction, for example, there was a cloud sitting right on top of a mountain peak. At the time, I thought that “is so the wrong thing to do” — it was hysterical, and I knew that cloud was probably in the middle of the scene on the tippy top of the mountain just as it was represented.

“That is how it was,” Alsop agreed. “It was just like that.”



It was authentic and refreshingly unrestricted by the “cheese” of surface design. And it was perfectly awkward enough to make me see the truth.

I also love the colors in one particular Alsop painting — the reds in the canyons of Moab, and the pop-culture colors of a Sam Harvey sculpture.

Harvey, of Aspen, has wanted to curate for The Western Colorado Center for the Arts for a few years now, and he is generous in spirit. Most recently, he put together a show — “Object, Structure, Subject …” — which is currently showing at The Western Colorado Center for the Arts through Nov. 14. The way he choreographed the space combined with the works selected transformed me as a curator. I wish I would have worked with him earlier in my career spanning eight years.

I travel a lot bringing artists and ideas back home. Life is an adventure for this stalker from John Irwin’s in Los Angeles County Art Museum (LACMA); the paintings of Alsop; and the experimentation of the Moab Music Festival in Utah; curation talents of Sam Harvey from Aspen; and even grabbing locals like Andrew Watson’s work from Grand Junction Pablo’s Pizza in Grand Junction. The rivers flow through deserts making them a fertile place to live, to work, to visit and to create.

Camille Silverman holds a Masters of Fine Art from Cranbrook Art Academy located outside of Detroit, Mich. She attended Cranbrook as well as The School of the Chicago Art Institute. Silverman currently holds the position of curator and executive director at The Western Colorado Center for the Arts, aka The Art Center. The word “Stalk” is important because implies relentless pursuit, but also implies the idea of growth, as in “Jack and the beanstalk.”


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