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Arts and Entertainment

‘Whimsical Wonderland,’ a community art exhibit opens at the DAC

Brenda Macon

Durangotangs are passionate no matter the season or the calling. We are “extreme” in any even, be it bed-racing, snowboarding or revelry. That’s why during all of this Snowdown frivolity and madcap debauchery, the Durango Art Center has a little something extra to tantalize your ocular receptors.

The DAC’s Visual Art Education team, Deena Carney and Ben Dukeminier, are presenting a unique community exhibit that represents the exuberant nature of more than 40 local artists. Please join us from 5-7 p.m. Friday (Jan. 27) for the opening of “Whimsical Wonderland.” Come meet the artists at this free reception and you may very well fall in love with your next special piece of art. Local legendary artists include Rebecca Dash, Lindsay Marks, Jim Lutomski, June McCarthy, Paige Brevard and Hannah Squire, plus 35 others who bring immense talent and quality works of art for your delight – and the art is available to own. You’re welcome to come in your Snowdown costume!

We had the pleasure of interviewing exhibiting artist and sculptor, Leigh Walters:

Q: Leigh, we are delighted to welcome you to the Durango Arts Center. What made you want to submit your work to this community exhibit?

A: In the cold of winter, a gallery show was announced featuring fantasy, surrealism, dreamscapes, magical abstractions with brilliant colors, anything that might bring a smile and lift the spirit! I’d been creating some small character sculptures, and now they had a place to be shown.

Q: What inspires your work?

A: I have loved myths and fantastical tales for as long as I can remember. I am fascinated by the blending that whimsy allows so that rabbits carry pocket watches, elephants can fly, humans can battle dragons and survive, and unicorns exist not only in forests.

I am grateful to the creative geniuses that shared their visions and their illustrations, from the earliest folk tales to the contemporary fantastical storytellers of today. They have certainly had a tremendous influence on me.

Q: Is there a story behind your sculptures?

A: The characters for this show are “Trollaries.” They are part troll and part fairy. They are known for being independent, fun-loving and mischievous pranksters. Not nearly so grumpy as their Troll relatives, they are quite social and love a great party above all else. They are not ferocious looking nor beautiful either, nor do they care. They are frumpy, funny, uninhibited, joy-filled characters just enjoying the moment!

Q: Please tell us about your process.

A: Each sculpture is one of a kind (OOAK), and is constructed using traditional sculptural techniques. I use polymer clays, low fired, and finally tinted using acrylic tints, pastels and inks. They are then embellished using feathers, wools, beads, glitter, mosses, sparkling shred, acetate, etc. Really any material that helps tell the story is fair game.

I often use glass and metal, wood, rocks, sticks and other found objects to make interesting bases for them.

Leigh’s lifelike creations are awaiting some shenanigans and are the perfect embodiment of the local Snowdown partygoer. Leigh says, “I’m pleased these little guys gave you a giggle! They have promised to be on their best behavior throughout the course of the show. Please let me know if they act up. Harold especially!”

Come meet Harold, his creator and the other artists bringing you their art of equal whimsical delight. This exhibit will close March 17.

Coming up next at the Durango Arts Center:

  • Durango Snowdown Adult Follies Performances*: Jan. 27-Feb. 4, various show dates/times. (*DAC does not sell tickets for this event, check out snowdownfollies.org/tickets.)
  • Felony Ever After: a one-woman play by Mary Quinn: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 and 18. Tickets $10/$15.
  • A Night of Improv, with Cindy Laudadio-Hill and Mary Quinn: Hilarity will ensue! 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24.
  • Silent Swanson Sunday: Vintage silent films accompanied by Adam Swanson on piano: 2 p.m. Feb. 26. Tickets $10/$15. All ages welcome.
  • “Reefer Madness, The Musical”: 7:30 p.m. March 17-18, 24-25 and 31 and April 1; 2 p.m. March 19, 26 and April 2. A story about clean-cut kids who fall prey to marijuana, leading them on a hysterical downward spiral filled with evil jazz music, sex and violence.
  • Theater Season Passes, $70-$285.
  • Adult improv classes: Drop in, Workout, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 1. Free. Green Level Class with Mary Quinn begins Feb. 21. Four sessions, $60/$100. Blue Level Class with Cindy Laudadio-Hill begins Feb. 23, four sessions, $60/$100.

Doors for all theater shows open half an hour before listed showtime.

Art Classes & Gallery Events
  • “Whimsical Wonderland,” a community art exhibit featuring more than 40 local artists. Opening reception, 5-7 pm. Friday (Jan. 27). Free.
  • Mud Day Madness, begins March 27, 6:30-8:30 p.m. $325.
  • Figure Drawing with live model, begins March 28, 6-8 p.m. Ten classes, $225.
  • Art of Painting, begins March 29, 10 a.m.-noon. $250.
  • Magical Art & Happiness adult art classes begin, March 31, 6-8 p.m. Six weeks, $200.
  • The Artisan’s Market, open noon-6 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday.
  • Pots & Pints: returns Feb. 3, 4:30-6 p.m. $30.

Questions? Email info@durangoarts.org

Donate, become a member for discounts and to be a patron of the arts, register for classes, buy tickets, and keep in touch at DurangoArts.org and find things fast at https://linktr.ee/durangoartscenter.

Brenda Macon has been executive director of Durango Arts Center since 2018. Her background includes executive leadership training, business and art instruction. She celebrates the inspiration, joy and meaningful engagement that the arts bring to our town.