Gundega Stevens’ art gallery G44 ushers in three new artists to kick off downtown’s First Friday festivities.
Works by Richard Wojdula, Madison Busi and Sydni Griffin will be on display at G44 for the month of August.
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Wojdula’s newest collection, “Metamorphosis: Shifting Perspectives,” an energetic, painstaking exploration of color and texture, is paired with Busi and Griffin’s collaborative effort, “Building Blocks,” which beautifully combines Busi’s printmaking and Griffin’s watercolor mediums.
Wojdula, 74, sounds 50 years younger on the phone. A classically trained artist, Wojdula’s rebellious streak is as wide as it is long. Most of his stories are punctuated with “can you believe that?” and most often, you can’t.
The man has squeezed three lifetimes into one. Wojdula is “insane,” by his own estimation. He attended multiple art schools, Colorado College between those, climbed and rode his bike for a decade, started a local ceramics program, owned a gallery or two, practically ran the Colorado Springs Senior Center, line-danced with “Mrs. H.W. Bush, the one with the pearls,” and then moved to Santa Fe with his partner, where he now paints in his garage, burning his ankles on a tiny space heater.
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After making it big with fellow artist Patricia Crawford in the 1990s via a series of satirical, sculptureish mechanized “boxes,” he quit art.
“We were hot,” he says, “the hottest around. I was nuts, I know.”
Wojdula reports having quit art about three times, give or take, over his 50-odd year career to teach or switch to something else — most recently to work construction (he was 62 at the time). “I never really grew up,” he explains, “because I’m an artist.”
Wojdula’s “Metamorphosis: Shifting Perspectives” collection at G44 is primarily the result of two dominant factors: his cataract treatment, which he credits for his paintings’ bright palette, and his battle against his extensive schooling. Here, he invokes Picasso, “I’m breaking it down … trying to paint like a child with the skill of an adult.”
Wojdula wants to bring his audience along on this journey of self-rediscovery. “I’m trying to force you to shift your perspective,” he says, “I’m forcing you to be a little bit uncomfortable.”
As for “Building Blocks,” Busi and Griffin’s pairing is a highly complementary one. Busi is a busy mother of two. “A perfectionist?” she laughs, “I am not one of them.”
“My art is super Bob Ross,” she explains, “a bunch of happy little accidents… every step of the way there is beauty.”
Griffin, the other half of the “Building Block” project, conversely, lives for precision. She works in finance during the day and paints in the evenings.
“Everything I do is intentional,” says Griffin, who loves the “graceful purity” and “clean lines” of watercolor. There’s an “essential quiet” to her artistry that she loves. Griffin’s hope with her creations is to “present my peace, the quiet little way I see the world. Like, hey, take a moment and appreciate this real quick with me.”
Despite their differences in style, Busi and Griffin have oddly parallel backgrounds.
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Art, for both of them, runs in the family. For Busi, it was her mother. For Griffin, it was her grandfather. They went to school in pursuit of some other field (education and business, respectively) and cite an irresistible desire to create.
Most importantly, they share a love of the outdoors. It is this, Griffin says, that makes them “so cohesive.”
Busi and Griffin agree their mutualistic collaboration speaks to the nature of nature: the chaos and the calm.
“Once you put our stuff together,” concludes Griffin, “we give you a four-dimensional expression of a setting. A true interpretation of a place.”