Best foot forward at Valley Visual Art Show |

Best foot forward at Valley Visual Art Show

Judy Fox-Perry installs an antenna on her marble cricket sculpture.
Will Grandbois / Post Independent |

Variety is the spice of life, and the Valley Visual Art Show has plenty of it.

For 36 years, the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities has put out the call to all artists in an 816- ZIP code, regardless of experience or medium. With just one piece each, the show opens 6 p.m. Friday and runs through Feb. 20 at the Launchpad with work from 68 artists. Some work will also be displayed at Bonfire Coffee around the corner.

“It’s all media,” said gallery manager Brian Colley. “There’s video this year for the first time, lots of sculpture, hanging artwork — the whole gamut. Most of it’s pretty affordable, but there’s also some high end art from artists people are already collecting.”

CCAH also offers layaway plans to encourage browsers at the free event to support local artists. With just a $25 entry fee for members and a 75/25 split, most of that money is going right back to the artist. There’s also a best in show award, with prizes for the most popular pieces.

It’s an event that established artists and newcomers alike look forward to.

Judy Fox Perry

A Colorado native, Fox-Perry went to school at Colorado Rocky Mountain School in 1969 and came back to teach art there after nabbing a range management degree. After years of coaching others in silversmithing and sculpture, she has found more time for art of her own as a rancher than as a teacher.

Fox-Perry’s medium of choice is Yule Marble, and she’s a consistent participant in the Marble symposium.

“It just always attracted me,” she said. “The community of Marble itself is very compelling. It brings people from all over the world.”

Her first entry in the Valley Visual Arts Show was a marble raven, and two years ago she won best of show with a version of the Venus of Willendorf — one of the oldest pieces of sculpture ever recovered.

“It was my experiment to see if I could replicate her with modern tools,” she said.

This year, she submitted a white marble cricket with silver antennae. Like most of her work, it comes with a story.

Planning to raft the Yampah, Fox-Perry and some friends arrived at Deer Lodge Park in the middle of the night to find the ground covered with Mormon crickets. After a difficult night, they woke to find a flock of Canada geese so full of crickets they could barely fly.

“It’s a pretty surreal experience,” she said.

Sometime later, she stumbled across a photo of an ancestral Puebloan bowl depicting the exact same scene.

“I had that same experience as that Anasazi hundreds of years prior,” she said. “Ever since then I wanted to do a cricket.”

Since entries are limited to the last year, Fox-Perry had only so many entries to consider, but it was still a tough decision.

“When you highlight one piece, you’re putting your best foot forward,” she said.

Above all, it’s a chance to check out what others are up to.

“It’s just being part of the community,” she said. “Carbondale’s really blessed with a lot of amazing artists. These are my people.”

Sarah Rosenthal

Rosenthal’s work was once a common sight at art shows in Carbondale schools, and her sister, Carly, has a piece in the show as well.

Now a student at the University of Art and Design in Santa Fe, Sarah has had plenty of opportunity to dabble in different media. When a professor assigned an artist statement of a different sort, she decided to tackle videography for art about art.

“I sort of always take videos, but I never thought about trying to make a piece out of it,” she said. “It actually felt really natural.”

The resulting piece is interactive and nonlinear, relying on “textures and feelings instead of descriptions and words.”

After years at school, Rosenthal finds displaying her work in her hometown refreshing.

“I’m excited for it to be there,” she said. “In Santa Fe, it’s very competitive. It’s nice to feel fully supported and like people are excited.”

It’s also a chance to get her feet wet in the world of professional art. With graduation fast approaching, she’s looking at various artists residencies in hopes of making a living doing what she loves.

“I’m going to take a crack at it,” she said.

Katrina Byars

For Byars, sitting up in front of a crowd at a town council meeting is nothing compared to the intimidation of showing her art for the first time.

“When I picked up the application I was terrified,” she said. “Everyone was really encouraging.”

The difference, she thinks, is how personal her work really is.

“I have never shown it because I’ve never felt like it was art,” she said. “I haven’t been making it to show. I’ve made it to process my most complex feelings and circumstances.”

Growing up in the Valley, Byars did everything from wood burning to ceramics to oil painting. She eventually took to charcoal as her medium of choice, appreciating its dark tone. More recently, she’s moved into mixed media.

“I’ve always been intimidated by painting. It feels so permanent,” she said. “The intensity of what I had to process became so great that I needed a more aggressive medium.”

Her first entry is largely abstract, although it does have a suggestion of a human figure. In the end, although it still feels like a baring of unprocessed emotion, Byars decided it was time to put herself out there.

“I think that I needed to take responsibility for my work as art,” she said. “Part of the process has to be sharing it because it’s the truth for me. When people are honest in makes space for others to do the same.”

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