There are not a lot of places where you can tour an art gallery in person or listen to live music these days.
In Ridgway, you can do both, more or less in the same place, on Friday night.
At the 610 Arts Collective, painter Kellie Day will be on hand from 5-7 p.m. to discuss her new exhibit, “Creatures,” large-scale images of fauna native to western Colorado.
Day uses an array of ever-changing methods to depict her creatures. For this exhibit, she started with a paint syringe to employ “fluid lines with wild inhibition,” as she put it, coaxing an array of animals that stalk the earth, swim and soar to brilliant life through a combination of paint, collage and acrylics. (“My paintings mix the media I’m most enamored of at the moment,” Day has said.)
Her decision to “hang around and loiter” in the gallery on Friday is as bold in its own way as the shades she uses in her work. This is, after all, a time of masks and social distancing.
“I just figured, why not,” Day said with a laugh. “The gallery has everything spaced out correctly” for safety, and “we can only have a few people in there at one time. Normally, at an opening, we’d offer wine and cheese, but we can’t do that, so we’ll have canned beverages. There will still be drinks! Life is a little different right now.”
What hasn’t changed is Day’s inspiration, what she describes as a “magical expression” of a creature’s essence — the bulk and majesty (and wariness) of an elk; the flickering light on the scales of a trout as the fish glides through water.
She depicts not only how animals appear, in other words, but also how they behave.
“I’m a very seasonal painter,” Day said. She chose to depict elk after observing several hunters’ trucks at local trailheads last fall — Day lives in Ridgway — and noticing that “the elk were all stirred up.”
“I want to capture the spirit of the animal,” Day said. “I feel like a person gets to have a connection with an animal, up close, through art that you don’t have in nature.”
One might wonder how Day got an up-close view of a trout, which is by definition not just a swiftly moving subject, but an underwater one at that.
“I was looking at photos of trout a lot doing some work for (Ridgway outfitter) RIGS,” Day said. “It was my last job before I committed myself totally to my art. And then my brother came to town, and we went down the Gunnison with his kids. When you’re right on the river, this is what happens: You watch fish go by, you see the glint of their scales and the little patterns on their backs, you’re feeling the cool, crisp water…all your senses get involved. I just had to paint them! That’s what artists do. We get overwhelmed or moved by something, and then we have to express it.”
Right next door to the 610 Arts Collective and behind the Sherbino Theater lies Ridgway’s newest music venue, also dubbed 610. It’s an outdoor performing space that will host Heather & Douglas in concert Friday night. The pair will play two sets; seating is by reservation at sherbino.org. Earlier this week, another local band, Birds of Play, performed at 610.
“We’ve had a pretty similar demographic to what we’ve seen at concerts in the Sherbino,” the theater’s cultural programmer Tricia Oakland observed, “which tells me that our audience is feeling safe and comfortable coming to these events. There’s very little live music right now; I think it brings a sense of joy that’s been missing. It’s been really exciting to watch people’s eyes light up again and see them tapping their toes.”