A backlash against the quick and easy in Carbondale | PostIndependent.com

A backlash against the quick and easy in Carbondale

Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Stina Sieg Post Independent

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Kate Davenport was sitting casually in her studio, one leg propped up on her chair. Hung around her were fish and windmills and fetuses and trees, painted in dark, mottled colors. They were large, with layer upon layer of texture covering the wood panels.

What exactly is she trying to say here?

“I think I’m still trying to find that out,” she said.

Raised in Malibu, Calif., Davenport explained that she was always interested in art. Her mom was also an artist, and her pieces were always hanging around the house. Perhaps it felt natural for Davenport to follow along, but she talked as if there had been no pressure. In high school, she spent her senior year at Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale before moving on to Colorado College in Colorado Springs. Near the end of her time there, she discovered encaustic. The mixing of oil paint, wax and varnish spoke to her. Ever since, she’s been creating “sculptural surfaces,” as she put it.

And these are no slap-dash creations. She likes to scrape away and add wax, to get physical with the pieces. In her estimation, each one represents about 100 hours of work.

“I think we live in an age that values quick and easy, and this is sort of a backlash against that,” she said.

The more you look at the pieces, the more those hours make sense. The paintings don’t just have a build-up of texture, but a build-up of ideas. In many, there are ghost images of previous thoughts that become obvious the longer you stare. Hardly any of the colors are pure, but instead have hints of other pigments swirled throughout.

They’re the kind of pieces that draw you in, get you curious, make you wonder what’s going on. They speak of a passage of time, process and a collection of materials.

At least that’s what Davenport is shooting for.

“I guess that I hope that it becomes a dialogue,” she said. “I’m working on my side of it.”

Though she didn’t really seem it, she admitted to being shy and introverted. Spending hours in the studio, adding detail to something that matters to her, is sort of a non-confrontational way of communication. She used to always keep journals, but those were private. Now, it’s like her diaries are bumped up a notch and splayed out for everyone to see.

“I hope it’s powerful for them in some way,” she said. “I hope it reminds them of something or makes them see something a new way or ask a question.”

At the same time, the work grounds her. Right now, she’s a waitress at the fancy Carbondale eatery SIX89. So, at nights at the restaurant, she gets her social ya-yas out, and she can spend the light hours rock climbing or painting in her studio. What she gets, every day, is time to create. And she knows how rare that is.

“You have to get into this real meditative, introspective place,” she said, “that I think a lot of people don’t always get to in their day, with their jobs and demands.”

In her words, “I think it gets me out of my head.”

But that doesn’t mean it will be there forever. Though her setup might seem enviable, she’s constantly thinking of what do next. She knows she doesn’t want to be a waitress forever and is looking for a career that’s a little more practical. Maybe something in design, perhaps in architecture, she thinks. Whatever it is, it will most definitely cut into her art making. And maybe that’s just fine, she thinks.

“But at the same time, this is what I love, and what I have energy for,” she quickly added.

“It’s nice to have this opportunity to do it now, and if I can’t do it forever, that’s OK,” she then countered.

So no, she didn’t have any real answers about her future. Yet she looked comfortable and calm and pleased with what she was doing, right now.

She’s still just figuring things out, anyway.

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