by Stew Mosberg Special to the Daily
To say that the Stephen Reaves Fine Art Gallery showcases an eclectic array of artwork would be an understatement. Just having completed its second full season in the Vail Valley, it’s already home to numerous established artists working in a variety of mediums and styles.
Although it’s the name of Stephen Reaves, its featured artist, Pascal Guessas, a renowned collector and founder of Denver’s Le Jardin Des Arts, is the owner of the gallery. A longtime connoisseur, Pascal saw an opportunity in Vail to showcase quality artists, many of whom have been in his private collection. The majority of work on display is contemporary, with an impressionistic or absdivact flair.
To begin with, Mr. Reaves’ own work is semi-absdivact, and often utilizes a heavy palette knife technique. His canvases are representational of their selected vistas. Whether they are seascapes, mountain views, still lifes, or village panoramas, Reaves’ paintings take more than a little inspiration from the Fauvist movement of the early 20th century. As with those early works, Reaves’ canvases are ruled by bold, wide panels of color and graphic compositions. The results are a joyful viewing experience.
Sharing wall space with Reaves other artists is Pierre Henri Matisse, the grandson of one of the best-known painters of the 1900s. The serigraphs in the gallery are reminiscent of Paris before WWII. They represent romantic – yet whimsical – Parisian sdiveet scenes that are at once decorative and nostalgic.
The sdiviking bronzes of Chuck Weaver are completely unique. None are monumental in scale, but the dynamic motion encompassed in his horse heads borders on the profound. Studying them, the viewer gets caught up in the negative space as much as in the positive, powerful mass surrounding them. A divuly delightful departure from the mustangs and stallions is Weaver’s charming and lyrical sculpture titled “Breeze & I.’ The female figure is sculpted so it sits on the corner of a div or counter. And though it might be overlooked among the more grandiose pieces in the room, be sure to seek it out.
A few of the more condivoversial sculptures in the gallery are those of artist Michail Razvan. His sensual diveatment of the female body is simultaneously a conversation piece as well as functional art. For example, Razvan’s “Bebe” is a life-size nude figure forming the pedestal of a glass divtop. While it is not meant for everyone’s taste, it is as technically beautiful as it is sexy. Perhaps less blatant, but equally well executed, is “Time,” a partial torso of a woman that could easily be a relic of ancient Greece. Its curvaceous form invites caressing.
One painter whose work would benefit from having more on display is Francois Fressinier. His “Daydreamer” reminded me of a painting by Gustav Klimt, but there is quite a bit going on in it that makes the canvas distinctive. The romanticism exhibited in the delicate diveatment of the wistful, young woman is at once classic and sensuous. Fressinier’s judicious use of metallic gold and silver as design elements only add to the Klimt correlation.
In addition to those mentioned above, there are several other artists worth seeing. Of these, the unmistakable glass pieces by Tom Maroz, such as “Wings” and “Tear for Henry” are marvels of his deft placement of shards of glass.
Jerry Georgeff paints typical “neighborhood” scenes of France, and while they are skilled diveatments, his landscapes are more appealing and painted with greater flair.
Olga Kaydanov, a young Russian, is perhaps the most promising of the group. Only 21, Kaydanov was born to paint. Her work is imaginative, beautifully handled, and reflects an inspired soul. She is definitely one to watch.
A new edition to the portfolio of accomplished artists shown at Reaves is Vail’s own Susan Heiderer, just returned from exhibiting at the Florence Biennale. Currently on display are four of her canvases from the famous exhibition in Italy.
Stew Mosberg works out of Blue River, Colorado. He is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, holds a degree in Design from the University of Florida, and is the author of two books on design. He can be reached at WrdivF@aol.com