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Lelija Roy Press

Lelija Roy in the News


Steamboat Today

Art exhibit rooted in nature
Lelija Roy's mixed media depicts aspens through the seasons
By Margaret Hair

Steamboat Springs — Mixed media artist Lelija Roy expects most anyone driving from Denver to Steamboat Springs this time of year to be wowed by the changing aspen trees.

But she doesn't expect anyone to stop and feel the texture of the bark. That's where her collection of paintings and mixed media pieces depicting aspens comes in.

"Aspen Spaces" is one of several series of pieces made from acrylic paint and found materials that show the texture aspen bark takes on from being nibbled by elk, for example. A show featuring "Aspen Spaces" goes on display Friday at K. Saari Gallery; an opening reception for the show is from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 2, during First Friday Artwalk.

Roy uses rice paper, fabrics, glass beads, marble dust and anything else that appeals to her eye to add texture to the works.

"Everything is fair game if I pick up something and I like the texture of it," she said.

The inspiration for "Aspen Sonnet," a series of three mixed media works, came to Roy in an aspen grove, when she saw the trees are connected to the same root system.

"To me that became a symbol of sisterhood. So I started going to the aspen grove about every two months," Roy said. Each time she went back, she saw a different color palette.

"What kept coming back to me was this is a different music at every time of year," she said. That change is expressed in "Aspen Spaces," a series of 4-by-6-inch pieces that show the progression of an aspen stand through the year.

A UV varnish on the finished works adds to their serious durability - before Roy settles on a newfound material to use in her art, she lets it sit on her front porch through a few months of Denver weather.

Gallery owner Kimberly Saari said she's had gallery patrons ask whether she has anything featuring aspens. Normally, she has to say no - nothing really struck her until she saw the concept and contemporary Western style of Roy's work, Saari said.

The show also includes close-ups of trees, long and narrow pieces that use pencil, glass beading and other found materials to add depth.

"Each one of them is in essence a portrait in time : because the color and the texture of the bark changes : from one part of the year to the next," Roy said.

Since she started working with aspens, Roy has depicted the trees in more than 100 paintings. She explores each new idea in a series of six to 20 works, she said.

"What I try to do when I get a different concept is I'm trying to explain that, and that's not going to happen with one painting. So, typically, when I do a series I'll do up to 10 of each thing," she said.