The pandemic may have shut down this region’s summer festivals, but it didn’t stop artists from creating — and the results are on display for all of us to enjoy. A case in point is Cie Hoover’s new exhibit, recently opened at Gallery 610 in Ridgway.
Titled “Woodshedding,” the exhibit doesconsist of literal woodworks. Yet the word connotes more than that. “Commonly used by musicians, ‘woodworking’ is a term that conveys intense practice and honing one’s craft,” Hoover has explained of the title for his first solo show. “As a professional musician along with my wife, Karisa” — together they comprise the folk-pop duo You Knew Me When — “my foray into visual art, and specifically wood-based art, has been a journey rooted in discovering, refining and honing my abilities to use wood as an artistic medium. My aim with this exhibit is to enhance the innate beauty found in wood, and to highlight three predominant themes found in my art.
Balance, “as showcased through delicate sculptures.”
Sound, exemplified by wooden sound waves. Hoover’s visual depiction of sound won him recognition in the first exhibit he ever participated in, the spring of last year. He had spoken the word “Ridgway” into a computer, which generated the letters R-I-D-G-W-A-Y into a sound wave; the artist then translated that image onto cedar planks, affixed to a backdrop of the iconic ridges of the Cimarron Range. The work helped to win him the exhibit’s Mayor’s Choice Award from Ridgway’s music-loving Mayor John Clark.
The third theme rippling through “Woodshedding” is nature itself. Hoover may reside in Ouray, but his pieces aren’t exclusively oriented toward the northwestern San Juans. Nor are they limited to Colorado, though he knows the state well, having spent a lot of time while he was growing up in Virginia (his grandparents owned a place in Snowmass).
“I know Karisa’s family had vacations out here, too,” Hoover recalled. “I always gravitated to Colorado.” He and Karisa were married in Nashville, “but every time we came out here, it felt like home. It felt like the right place to be. Eventually, we started to make our way toward southwestern Colorado.”
Which is where they settled, and which put them a short journey away from another iconic landscape, the desert sandstone of eastern Utah.
You feel the desert’s influence in some of the 40-or-so pieces — “a good amount of bigger pieces, 10 or 15 that are smaller,” Hoover said — on exhibit in “Woodworking.”
“Towards Center,” for example, is a (seemingly) precarious assemblage of stacked wood with one of the region’s most famous natural works of art in the midst of it: a sculpted chunk that recalls the 128-foot-high boulder Balanced Rock, at Arches National Park.
Balanced Rock is a formation of Entrada Sandstone. The only stone in Hoover’s otherwise-wooden “Towards Center,” though, is on the far right side: It looks like it’s about to topple over, which is also true for (and the great appeal of) Balanced Rock itself. As the National Park Service’s website says of the iconic regional formation, “Balanced Rock defies gravity, but this won’t always be the case. Eventually, the 3,600 ton (over million kg) boulder will come tumbling down as the erosional process continues to shape the landscape.”
So, too, do artists and their works evolve, and Hoover’s pieces at 610 Arts reflect the distance he has come, over time, since his first inclusion in an art exhibit, April of 2019.
Over the next few thousand years (or maybe sooner) Balanced Rock will disappear, destroyed by nature’s processes. Yet recently, time has been Hoover’s friend. “In some ways, the shutdown was good for me, and for focusing on art,” he said. “It allowed me to really dig down, and create a variety of pieces. I got to work.”
Cie Hoover will be available for an artist ‘meet-and-greet’ Wednesday at 610 Arts from 5-7 p.m. You Knew Me When will celebrate the release of their new album with a concert Sept. 20 at the Courtyard at 610. To see more of Cie Hoover’s work, visit @customcraftedbycie on Facebook or Instagram. Purchase tickets for the Sept. 29 concert at sherbino.org.