First Thursday Art Walk: Weatherford At Ah Haa

Telluride’s Ah Haa School for the Arts, 300 South Townsend, honors painter Robert Weatherford with a retrospective showcasing 25 years of painting, including florals, landscapes, still-lifes and portraits. The opening of the exhibit in the Daniel Tucker Gallery coincides with the Telluride Council for the Arts & Humanities’ First Thursday Art Walk, August 5, 5 – 8 p.m. Across town, a show at the Stronghouse Studios, 283 South Fir Street, features the work of one of Weatherford’s students, county commissioner Elaine Fischer. Fischer’s work underlines the legacy of her teacher: the triumph of visceral over cerebral.

( For a list of the goings-on around town and a map of all participating venues, go to the TCAH website)

Weatherford’s images are beautiful like a raging mountain storm. And they generate about as much energy. Adjectives such as agitated, aggressive, muscular, and raw come to mind in describing the work.

Weatherford paints in the style of the Expressionists. Expressionism is a movement in art history in which traditional ideas of naturalism and representation take a back seat to exaggerations of shape and color. The idea is to express urgent emotions. Otherwise the artist’s inner fire burns out of control. The resulting distortions and exaggerations captured in paint, like the shapes reflected in a fun-house mirror, elevate subjective responses above mere record-keeping of the external world. (In fact, Weatherford’s abstract backgrounds are worlds unto themselves.)

Weatherford’s painting process is largely intuitive and iterative. He begins by taking a digital photograph of his subject matter, which he projects onto a canvas before laying the basic colors and compositional relationships. With each ensuing a gesture, each application of another layer of glaze, the artist steps aside to look at the evolving image for emotional pitch. Weatherford claims he is not in control when he paints. He believes every one of his images used him to create itself. Weatherford is not after beauty. He is after truth. Which is beauty.

Robert Weatherford’s work is carried by Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

To learn more, watch Clint Viebrock’s video.

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