Fiber binds pair of artists to show at CMU gallery
In a normal year, there’s a bone-chilling differential between the average wintertime weather in Anchorage. Alaska, and Grand Junction. This year, not so much.
But that doesn’t stop an ongoing dialogue between two fiber artists with roots in both cities. Nancy Dobson and Mary Hertert have a lot to say about both places and much to show.
The duo will present “Between Here and There,” a fiber art exhibit scheduled Tuesday through Feb. 15 in the Art Gallery at the University Center on the Colorado Mesa University campus. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
An artists’ reception also is planned from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the gallery, 1100 North Ave.
For the record, the subarctic climate of Anchorage produces daytime temperatures from 5–30 degrees in the winter months with an average whopping snowfall of 75.5 inches.
If only we here in the valley could enjoy a “balmy” 30 degrees once again.
Dobson and Hertert, Alaskan friends since the 1990s, interpret their similar feelings for both Alaska and Colorado in different ways.
Often working from aerial photos of the Alaskan landscape, Dobson captures its fleeting light in orderly stitches, taking a mixed- media approach through quilting, painting and dyeing.
She and her pilot husband, Warren, found a place to escape the long, dark winters of Alaska in the high desert, becoming Grand Junction residents in 2007. They continue to split their time between the two states because of work and family. Their northern home is in Eagle River, near Anchorage, where the sun shines 41 percent of the year.
In comparison, Colorado’s Western Slope spends 71 percent of the time basking in the sun.
Although winter does settle over the Grand Valley, Dobson says “the sunshine and blue skies make it much more enjoyable.” Those elements also make human hibernation as short as daylight in the Alaskan winter, a factor the Dobsons appreciate on their February hikes. January through mid-May are the optimum months to leave the north country, with another vacation here in October, she says.
Hertert, and her husband, Doug Van Etten, followed the Dobsons’ lead about three years later. After visiting them in Grand Junction in 2010, Hertert and Van Etten made the move to a home in Fruita three months later. She operates Color Creek-Fiber Art, a textile dyeing studio in Grand Junction and teaches fiber arts at CMU.
Choosing an organic path with her often sculptural pieces, Hertert enjoys spontaneity in the random pouring of dyes in her studio. When a bobcat face “seemed to appear” in one of her heavily stitched velvet pieces, she called it serendipity.
Hertert likens such experiences to the discoveries made while hiking among the red rocks and sandstone cliffs of this area.
In art, she says, she is constantly searching “for the mood of a piece” and many times her fabrics mimic the appearance of rock. One of her pieces replicates lava.
The women will exhibit about two dozen pieces of their art in the gallery, as well as a collaborative installation titled “Changing Light,” sheer panels printed and infused with dye that will hang from the ceiling.
They forged their friendship in Alaska’s extreme environment, and since then the pursuit of their art parallels one another. Both Dobson and Hertert have served on the Alaska Fiber Festival board, entered a variety of shows and are active in the Surface Design Association and the Art Quilters Association. It seems natural that they view their most recent locale, the Grand Valley, as “the other side of the same coin — just different colors,” they say.
Our recent cold snap is likely to make them feel “at home” whether in Alaska or Colorado. One thing’s for sure: Their artwork shines in either state.