Erie breaks into arts scene with wide-ranging show

By John Aguilar Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 10/07/2011 09:58:51 PM MDT

ERIE — Homegrown artists — working with glass, wood, watercolors, pencil, oil and mixed media — have taken center stage this month at the Arts Coalition of Erie’s first juried art show.

Eighty-eight works from 33 artists are hanging on walls and perched on tables in the modest ACE building on Briggs Street, displaying an impressive potpourri of talent and creativity by artists from Broomfield, Boulder, Longmont, Louisville, Lafayette and Nederland.

Half the entries in the show, which runs through Oct. 28, are from Erie residents.

“We were ready for a show of this caliber, and it hopefully puts us on the same playing field as Louisville, Lafayette and Boulder,” said Wira Babiak, ACE’s vice president. “We have a lot of hidden, talented and — in some cases — well-known artists.”

That includes Erie resident Barry Snyder, who has received national acclaim for his produce-tag mosaics, in which he creates images of everyday objects using the stickers found on peaches, apples, bananas and other fresh produce.

His piece at the ACE show is an El Camino car, called “The Shadow,” formulated from hundreds of painstakingly arranged stickers.

Snyder’s piece and the 87 others in the exhibit are all contending for prizes, which will be announced at the show’s opening reception Saturday night.

“It’s a really good representation of artists,” said Kay Miller, a former University of Colorado art professor who judged the show. “It’s a community show, so it has everything from things that are raw and primitive to things that are fairly sophisticated.”

Sculpted bowls, carved candle holders, ceramic works — and a piece made entirely of gum packages and chocolate bar wrappers — join a large collection of paintings and photographs in the exhibit.

“Nose Above Water,” a digital photo of a tiger swimming through dark, rippled waters, was among Miller’s favorites.

“I thought the light was incredible on the water,” she said.

Cheryl Mills, who photographed the tiger on a visit to the Philadelphia Zoo, ranks it as her best photo ever. The Erie resident said she tracked the animal with her lens for 45 minutes, trying to capture it at just the right moment. The ethereal image ended up as a metaphor for life and a coping tool for Mills.

“This is how we often feel — that we can barely stay afloat,” she said. “Yet he’s having such a good time with it.”

ACE president Gary Wetzbarger, who has several wood carvings entered in the show, said the exhibit is his organization’s first major public effort and represents what he hopes is the beginning of an artistic renaissance for Old Town Erie.

The 3-year-old nonprofit bought the downtown space, which once served as a fire station and then a recreation center, late last year.

Wetzbarger thinks it will only be a matter of time before local artists begin to turn to Erie as a respectable venue for their work.

“And it needed to happen after too many years of waiting to do it,” he said. “The only way we’re going from here is bigger and better.”

Source: http://www.dailycamera.com/erie-news/ci_19067879