Artist opening first show in Carbondale |

Artist opening first show in Carbondale

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

CARBONDALE ” It’s surprising, special and kind of sweet when you find people who look just as dedicated to each other as they do to their work. No exaggeration here ” that’s how it felt to meet Jay Phillips and Eden Marsh.

At the time, the married couple was sitting in Phillips’ workspace at SAW (Studio for Arts + Works), where Phillips was preparing for his first art show. Opening tonight, “Continuum (and other works)” features his abstract tiles as well as Marsh’s figural pastel drawings. As they talked about their art, their business and how they met, the duo seemed simply comfortable with each other. They were also completely excited. This exhibit is the result of a whole winter of art making.

“We’re just these people who want and need to do art in our lives,” Phillips said.

During the summer, explained Marsh, they’re busy outside with their landscaping company, Creative Endeavors. Once the season ends, however, everything changes.

“In the fall, we’re drooling and panting to get back in (to the studio),” she laughed.

To Marsh, a lifelong artist, this means delving into different things, from knitting to weaving to drawing. Some of her recent work includes colorful, almost neon nudes (“a little wilder” than your classic figures, she explained).

For a decade, Phillips’ work was functional, thrown pottery. These last few months, however, he started to create slabs of ceramic tile, imprinted with found objects. Though it was a totally new avenue for him, the free-form quality made sense to him from the get-go.

In his words, “It really opened up some artistic space I was harboring somewhere in there.”

In a way, art played a role in the couple’s coming together. It was nine years ago, and they were both working at a restaurant at the Snowmass ski area. After sharing a sink and a few walks up the mountain, Marsh invited Phillips over to weave sometime (Phillips joked that it was “a modern pick-up line” ” “very Carbondale”). Needless to say, he took her up on it. He was 21. She was 40. And it felt right.

“We just connected so well,” Marsh said.

“It was odd and great and wonderful for both us,” Phillips added.

They’ve now been married for three years, and creativity has always been part of their relationship. As artists, Phillips explained, they’re similar. Neither are classically trained nor have had much exposure ” and both love what they do.

But it doesn’t mean it isn’t a challenge. Regardless of your medium, it seems that facing a “blank canvas” is always nerve-wracking. Starting can be the hardest part.

“There’s definitely something scary about that kind of expectation,” explained Phillips. “It’s definitely not all exultant and wonderful.”

“Is it some kind of soul searching or vulnerability that just feels really scary?” asked Marsh.

She went on to say that sometimes she’s afraid to be judged. Sometimes she feels frozen. Phillips added to her thoughts quickly. Everyone, he said, has that fear.

So, what’s the answer?

Of course the couple didn’t know. Who would? For them, for most, it’s a process, just something to get through. And maybe this show is a big step in that direction. With almost this entire winter off, both artists were left to their own creative devices. Marsh worked at home and at figure drawing classes. Phillips forced himself into his studio and eventually created a completely new body of work. When asked for advice on motivation, he only had his own answer: Keep at it.

“Screw it all,” he said, with conviction in his voice. “Whatever it is. Put some paint on canvas. Put some marks on clay. Whatever it is, just do it.”

And he makes you want to. They both do.

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