Valley Visual Art Show brings local artists together for community exhibit

Carbondale Arts Launchpad Gallery Manager Brian Colley is shown in the R3 Gallery with some of the works in this year’s 42nd annual Valley Visual Art Show.
John Stroud/Post Independent


The 42nd annual Carbondale Visual Valley Art Show (VVAS) will kick off this Friday, Jan. 22, and run through Feb. 25, at the Launchpad, 76 S. Fourth St. Carbondale. The show will feature unique work from 50 different artists, the majority of them being local to the area.

Brian Colley, gallery manager at the Launchpad, said this show is one of the few venues artists in the area can have their pieces exhibited.

“So this is a great chance to see artists that you don’t know but they’re here. There are so many creative people here and you think you know everyone in the valley but you really don’t. There’s always about a third of the entrants who come in here and I don’t know who they are but their work is amazing,” Colley said.

The show also marks the 50th year of Carbondale Arts, however the gallery will not host an opening ceremony as usual due to restrictions from COVID-19.

“We won’t have an opening but we will be open later on Friday. In the past we would have a big hoopla with food and drink, and all that stuff, but we won’t have that this year,” artist Staci Dickerson said.

Dickerson is a member of Carbondale Creative District and a local painter. She said all the artwork featured in the VVAS are pieces that were created within the last 12 months. The painting she’ll have on display is titled “Blue Notes,” an abstract painting, and one of the few pieces she’s painted throughout the pandemic.

“I have to say I have not been really productive over the last three to four months. I’ve hardly painted at all,” Dickerson said.

Liz Caris, a tile muralist who moved to the valley around 2018, described the art she creates as “painting with glass.” It is the first time Caris will have work in the VVAS and she said she’s ecstatic to attend the gallery and see all the work on display from other local neighboring artists as well. She said it has been hard to find an “immersive community” during COVID-19 and echoed Dickerson’s sentiment about struggling to create over the past months of lockdown and isolation.

“At the beginning I just couldn’t focus…I had a hard time focusing, I just couldn’t think. Everything was shutting down one thing after another…it was very hard for me,” Caris said.

There will be a way to view the gallery online if individuals don’t feel comfortable attending the show in person. Per safety precautions, the gallery will only allow eight people at a time so guests can keep their distance from each other while enjoying the art. VVAS will have the option for visitors to vote on pieces in the People’s Choice Award for the one they enjoy the most. The top three artists will receive a cash prize courtesy of Carbondale Arts.

“A Man Who Sees a Forest, and a Man Who Sees Lumber” by Joy Joseph and William Laemmel is one of the many works in the 42nd Annual Valley Visual Art Show in Carbondale.
John Stroud/Post Independent

“We keep the numbers limited to eight people inside the rooms here. That’s what we did throughout our whole holiday show and it worked really well. There might be a little line but people know that other people are behind them so they usually move through really well,” Colley said.

To further the celebration of Carbondale Arts’ 50th year, there will be 10 golden tickets hidden randomly behind art pieces on display. Colley said they did this to encourage visitors to purchase local art.

“If you purchase (a piece with a golden ticket behind it) you’ll get a ticket and a chance to draw out of a jar for a raffle. We’re (giving away) gift cards to our gift shop here,” Colley said.

VVAS also teamed up with the Carbondale Chamber and First Bank to host a coloring contest for children who visit the gallery. Colley said he’ll put together some line drawings that families can pick up when visiting the Launchpad and then drop off at First Bank.

“A fun coloring page full of … four different pieces that people can color in. Those will be able to pick up on First Friday in February. People can color them in and put their name on it and enter in a raffle at First Bank,” Colley said.

The artwork featured will also be available for purchase at the online store on the Launchpad’s website. Colley and Caris both have pieces that will be featured — Colley will have a watercolor self-portrait on display and Caris has a piece titled “Cone Flowers.”

Caris’ piece is the unique assembly of Italian tile to illustrate an element from the natural landscape of Colorado. She said she is used to creating work from the perspective of the outdoor setting around her, but since moving from Tucson, Arizona, the subjects of her work have changed quite a bit.

“Of course in the desert my medium was desert animals, cactus, flowers that grow there, landscapes. When I came here everything changed, you know? Now I have files of moose, deer, coneflowers and columbine…mountains and stuff like that. It’s good for me because it’s a whole new thing for me to draw,” Caris said.

For folks who would like to attend the art show in person, the gallery will be open to visitors from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The gallery will have a catalog of artist bios which will also be available online so those interested can view their works and learn more about the people behind the art pieces.

“To me, it makes me feel better, physically better to see art … it’s just something that will give your soul some love, a different thing to go do,” Caris said.

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