Story and photos by Kristin Schaeffer

Art Start, an event centered around Casper’s three art anchors, The Nicolaysen Art Museum, Scarlow’s Gallery and Art321 drew large crowds last night, Thursday, Apr. 6, 2017 and did not disappoint. It’s meant to kick off the Art Walk season Downtown and the three gallery spaces definitely started things off with a bang.

The Nicolaysen Art Museum

Bronze sculpture by Robert I. Russin on display at the Nicolaysen Art Museum.The NIC held a reception for The Hidden Studio: Sketches and other treasures from Robert I. Russin exhibit that went up mid January. Russin’s family was present and gave a short talk about their father, his works, and their lives growing up with him. They shared anecdotes about some of their father’s art, and how it related to his life and friendships. They told a story of two fishing buddies, their father and a friend, who were always trying to one-up each other as fishermen. When the artist’s friend caught a large trout in South America, Russin shipped him a larger sculpture of a fish made of Persian Onyx entitled ‘Stream Dream’ to show what he could do. Their stories added context for the art works that make up the exhibit and provided a rare treat for those in attendance, as if the beauty of the varied body of work weren’t treat enough.

The work itself presented viewers with a sampling of how the artist evolved throughout his life, and his experimentation with different mediums and styles. For one more week the NIC will host sculptures, some realistic representations of subject matter, others abstract or stylized representations, paintings and sketches, previously unseen by the public. Russin’s work in stone had me pondering the paradox he created: works made of hard stone, but created in a smooth glass-like finish; flowing lines, soft edges. I found myself wanting to run my hands along those sculptures to feel that smoothness.

In addition to Russin’s large showing, Martin John Garhart attended and gave an artist talk on his exhibit scheduled to be up through May 7, 2017: Seen and Said. His paintings are made up, mostly, of multiple images with underlying textures and patterns housed in the same frame. The artist makes the frames himself, which on their own would would be examples of fine craftsmanship. According to the artist, each piece tells a story and I felt that myself as I studied his works before the talk. I noticed that one piece in particular, of a large sunset, featured a truck with headlights barely visible driving along a dark road toward the viewer. I wondered just what the story was for that piece, because it was blatantly obvious there was one.

Garhart’s work is a sight to behold, but equally pleasing last night, were the artist’s comments on his work. I had never heard an artist speak of art created with intention until I listened to this impassioned artist. He spoke of growing up dyslexic, and going to college on a football scholarship and feeling a shift within himself when he took an art class.

“Suddenly here was this language that just made sense,” he sad. (see the videos of his talk below provided by the NIC)

The people of Casper are truly lucky to have a resource like the Nicolaysen Art Museum in our community. During an introduction to the speakers for the night’s events, Ann Ruble, the Nicolaysen Art Museum’s Consulting Director, called Eric Wimmer, Currator for the NIC, the best curator in the West, and after seeing the results of his efforts last night, the sentiment seems accurate despite his insistence that it wasn’t. In Wimmer’s own write up about the exhibit he makes reference to the “. . . three year long journey into the depths of an artist’s [Russin’s] body of work, spanning roughly three quarters of a century,” and we are reminded, as arts patrons and casual attendees alike, that exhibits like this don’t happen over night. Hard work and dedication go into every show and exhibition.

“The NIC was so pleased to see the community involvement in the Arts last night. It was such a pleasure and I hope that support continues in the future,” said Wimmer.

The NIC invites you to attend the next artist talk during the May Art Walk, Thursday, May 4, 2017. Jeb Schenck is scheduled to speak on his exhibition: Chasing Light, hanging currently in the Bordewick/Durham Galleries. 

Scarlow’s Gallery

Dan Marshall talks with guests during the Art Start event reception at Scarlow's Gallery Thursday, Apr. 6, 2017.

Dan Marshall talks with guests during the Art Start event reception at Scarlow’s Gallery Thursday, Apr. 6, 2017.

Scarlow’s Gallery is currently hosting an exhibition of watercolor paintings by Daniel Marshall, AWS, and held a reception for the show during last night’s Art Start. The artist was present for the reception and milled around in the intimate space talking to guests. Anyone looking at the large body of Plein-air paintings hanging on the walls at Scarlow’s would never suspect this is Marshall’s first public showing.

His watercolors boast a developed style of loosely washed paint in a pallet of a limited range of colors. He uses light and foggy/smoggy washes to portray the beauty of architecture and structures, vehicles and people that make up urban landscapes. It’s pleasantly grungy without being dingy. Marshall’s showing makes me eager to see what’s next for this artist and has piqued my interest in urban art and his paint driven wash techniques.

Art321

For the Art Start event ART321 debuted a show consisting of art by Neltje, Suzette McInyre, and launched the Keep Casper Beautiful Public Art Project.

A giant, colorful abstract piece by Neltje, New York born Wyoming Artist, greeted Art Start visitors last night as they walked through the doors at ART321. The piece was the main focus of the room and set the tone for the evening in the ART321 Gallery space as a vibrant, inviting public event. Neltje’s free flowing strokes and use of bright color in her work elicited a joyous wonder from me as an art viewer last night. Gazing at the larger than life piece took me back to my childhood and my early fascination with art; as did my observations of others pondering the piece. It’s beautiful to see reactions to art on other people’s faces, and last night at ART321 there were almost as many faces to watch as there were pieces of art to behold.

Suzette McIntyre’s approach to photography combines beautiful images with manipulation by the artist to reflect her unique view of the world. She uses interesting crops, misty edges and color toning to achieve this and her art was a welcome addition to the show last night.

The Keep Casper Beautiful Public Art Project drew lots of attention from Art Start goers at ART321 Thursday, Apr. 6, 2017.Lastly, seeing the public art exhibit take up most of the back wall of ART321’s large gallery space is a true testament to our community’s love of art and guests spent as much time perusing the public show as they did the rest of the gallery.

There were a wide range of talent and skills represented on the Public Art Project wall and a vote by visitors to determine the winners of the contest.

West Winds Magazine contacted ART321 to inquire about the winners of the public vote for the Keep Casper Beautiful Public Art Project and was told that the winners would be announced later today on the Keep Casper Beautiful Facebook page or see the Public Art Project wall in the Gallery to find ribbons on the winning pieces.

The current show is scheduled to hang through Apr. 28, 2017 at ART321, so if you couldn’t make it last night, you’ve got some time. But don’t wait too long. This show is a must see.

Kristin Schaeffer