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‘Spring Invitational’ features works by Karl Isberg

Special to The PREVIEW

Photo courtesy SHY RABBIT Five contemporary acrylic-on-canvas paintings by Pagosa Springs’ artist Karl Isberg are included in the ‘SHY RABBIT Spring Invitational’ currently on display through June 8. Some label Isberg’s paintings ‘abstract, while others identify them as ‘figurative.’ Both are correct.

Photo courtesy SHY RABBIT
Five contemporary acrylic-on-canvas paintings by Pagosa Springs’ artist Karl Isberg are included in the ‘SHY RABBIT Spring Invitational’ currently on display through June 8. Some label Isberg’s paintings ‘abstract, while others identify them as ‘figurative.’ Both are correct.

SHY RABBIT Contemporary Arts is pleased to announce the “SHY RABBIT Spring Invitational 2014,” continuing through June 8.

This annual group exhibit features a diverse selection of work by 16 highly recognized artists from six U.S. states, including several hailing from Colorado.

The works on display include original fine art prints, mixed-media sculptures and encaustics, original charcoal drawings, aquatint/etchings, silk-velvet hats and scarves, functional and sculptural ceramics, acrylic on canvas and oil on panel paintings, and stoneware/mixed-media ikebanas.

Five contemporary acrylic-on- canvas paintings by Pagosa Springs’ Karl Isberg are included in this expansive display.

Isberg began his formal study of art in 1965. His most influential teacher was James F. Parker, who eventually headed the Parsons School of Design campus in Paris.

Isberg acquired two seemingly contrary emphases while studying under Parker that have dominated his artistic life: commitments to both abstraction and to figurative re-presentation.

“The works mark the years. Hundreds of works, nearly forty-five years,” Isberg said.

“Some label my paintings ‘abstract.’ Others identify my work as ‘figurative.’ Both are correct.

“The two are one and the same to me. All my work is to some extent figurative. It is my belief that the most powerful works are those that, in some way, reference human form.”

Isberg collaborated with the late Kip Farris in the 1970s on a number of projects in the Denver area, including several large-scale murals. Together they opened 1418, one of the Mountain West’s first alternative galleries — a venue at which a number of now-noted regional artists showed work.

It was as an abstract painter that Isberg first drew public notice — with the showing of two “Mescaline Monster” paintings at the Denver Art Museum in 1973.

A series of one-person and group shows continued this mode through the early 1980s. Interspersed in this schedule were exhibits of more forthrightly figurative work, including pieces shown in a number of major regional shows.

In 1986, after exhibiting work in Colorado, New Mexico and California, Isberg left Denver for a secluded rural location, showing only sporadically in other states.

“My career has been consistently productive, the work diverse and, above all, non-doctrinaire.

“The aim has never been to satisfy current fashion, never to fall in step with what is salable, academically correct or critically prized at the moment. The work has been produced in conscious opposition to most of the dominant ideas and fashions of the time, though it has been exhibited in many venues and has elicited significant positive response.

“Much of the work has been produced in isolation — at a distance physically and intellectually from the cultural centers, from the modes of the day, and from the people that inhabit the art world.

“What results is one series of work after another, each propelled by a central concept, each exploring the ramifications of that concept in a satisfying, full way.

“Styles and trends fall aside and are dismissed in favor of a protean effort that strives for unique results — results that suggest the next step, the next idea, the next series.

“The power of abstraction and a deep connection to the human form are manifest in my paintings and drawings; a fascination with the process of re-presenting human visual, intellectual and emotional experience is a thread that runs through more than four decades of effort.”

SHY RABBIT is located at 333 Bastille Drive; two blocks north of U.S. 160, off of North Pagosa Boulevard.

This story was posted on May 1, 2014.