Welcome to the dessert of the real

by Nick Gonzales

If you wander into Animas Chocolate Company for chocolate and coffee in September, be sure to check out the art on the walls. Look on these works, ye mighty, and notice how truthfully they portray their subject matter.

“Get Real! An invitational group exhibit of realistic art” will be showing at the shop from Sept. 2 through 26. It’ll feature the art of Durangoans Mariah Kaminsky (who is also curating the show), Peter Campbell, Jordan Farr, Miki Harder, Elizabeth Kinahan, Lexis Loeb, Bryce Pettit, and Allison Leigh Smith.

Also on display will be work by Kelley Booze, of Springfield, Ohio, who specializes in portraying urban landscapes in states of decay – think abandoned parking lots where the grass is starting to grow back. (We don’t know about you, but this feels like just the mood for heading into September 2020.) Last but not least, art by Susan Hansen Staves of Columbia, South Carolina, whose landscapes are a bit gentler and more traditional, will be there.

Don’t worry — it’s not all landscapes. Smith paints animals, Pettit sculpts, and Kaminsky is contributing portraiture while trying to lock down some still lifes, last we heard. This will also be one of the first shows for Farr, who works at ACC.

Why focus on realism, though?

“For a while, it was very overlooked — we got into Impressionism. Now it’s coming back with a vengeance, I feel like, but not quite here yet,” said Kaminsky. “So I just wanted to kind of bring it here. … It’s been kind of a lost genre here.”

She said you have to be highly skilled to pull realism off, and she thinks people tend to underestimate how much goes into each painting. For Kaminsky, the realism style of art is a tightrope walk balancing between accurately depicting something and not recreating it perfectly, and without adding any style to the image.

“I think there’s a challenge to it, trying to capture the realist aspect without it being photographic,” she said. “Copying a photograph onto a painting doesn’t make any sense to me. Why wouldn’t you just use the photograph? There’s a talent there, and there’s a skill, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s art to me. So I’m trying to make it look more real than even a photograph.”

We’re veering dangerously close to a conversation about simulacra and simulation and we’d rather not break out the Jean Baudrillard while everybody is having fun, so we’ll be dropping that subject right about now.

But if you want to grill Kaminsky and some of the other Durango artists on how they go about recreating reality realistically, you’ll have the chance. There will be an artists’ reception that is open to the public from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 18. It sounds like a pretty decent excuse to take in some art and some chocolate.

Then again, if you’re the type who’d rather avoid gatherings of people at this point in time (and who can blame you?) you can see the entirety of the show from home. Kaminsky is adding all of the pieces to her website at mariahkaminsky.com, and anyone can check out the exhibit there.

Nick Gonzales

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