ALAMOSA – Adams State University Art Professor and Art Department Chair Claire van der Plas will exhibit her paintings, Boom Days, from January 22 through February 22, in the Cloyde Snook Gallery. An artist lecture begins at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, in the Art Building room 227 and will be followed by an opening reception.
Over the last several years van der Plas has painted images of rocks and water relating to the history of mining in Colorado. These works contrast the orderliness of the grid with the organic patterns of rock and water. Some of these paintings are exacting representations of rocks used in Leadville’s ‘Boom Days’ celebrations during which miners compete to demonstrate their drilling skills. “Several of these overlay a regular taped grid from my painting process on the rougher grid of numbered squares painted on the actual rocks as part of the drilling competition,” van der Plas said. The double grids can be read as alluding to topography, the gridding out of surveyed land, numbered claims, and mined and un-mined sections of the landscape.
“The paintings of water in rivers and containment ponds allude to our long history of attempts to contain and control leachate released by mining from the rocks into the water, and its subsequent unpredictable and uncontainable migration through the environment,” van der Plas added. The overlaid grids reference our attempts to control our world, both in how we think about it and how we physically alter it. These grids allude to order, mapping, dividing, and the structuring of knowledge into distinct areas.”
These works are about mining, but they are also about looking, paying close attention, and the labor of painting realism. There is a meditative aspect to the slow work of painting the grain of wood, flaking paint on rough textured rocks, bent timbers in a collapsed building. It is a challenge to depict complex surfaces and spaces in the world and what is on them and beneath them, on the surface of a canvas. “This is a challenge that excites and absorbs me, it is work that I find fulfilling,” van der Plas said. “I hope that the viewer, in doing their part of the meaning-making work that is art, is absorbed and excited, and is prompted to think about paying attention – to the surface of the painting, but also to the surface and depths of our world, and the effects we have on it.”
An exhibit, Fractalrefinery Inspaceonline, by Adams State art alumni Nora McBride and Matthew Capell, will be on display in the Hatfield Gallery from January 22 through February 22 with an opening reception from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, in the Art Building.
Caption: Pictured, Oregon Gulch, Leadville, oil on canvas by Claire van der Plas, will be included in her sabbatical show, Boom Days, opening January 22 in the Adams State Cloyde Snook Gallery,/Photo courtesy of Claire van der Plas