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Localized Radical Exhibit at CSU-Pueblo features diverse art forms

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Over the last two weeks, those who have walked into Colorado State University-Pueblo’s Fine Arts Gallery have been greeted by numerous drawings scattered around the room, unique documentary style videos throughout the area and an enormous wall-spanning mural.

This display is the collective product of the “Localized Radical” exhibit that held a closing reception on Feb. 26. The exhibit featured three artists, including two locals from Pueblo and one all the way from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Local artist Arley Woodty had the most pieces on display at the gallery, with nine of his original drawings appearing on the walls. Each drawing had a specific look and theme, whether it was patterns, abstract shapes and figures, or interpretive pieces.

Artist Arley Woodty | Photo by Alec Herrera
Artist Arley Woodty | Photo by Alec Herrera

Pueblo native Mathew Taylor created an immense mural that covered an entire wall of the Fine Arts Gallery. With the specific theme of “violence in the community,” the mural portrayed strange, monstrous creatures alongside artistic beauty.

Taylor, who also goes by “Refic” and “Matte Refic,” has traveled around the country specializing in large-scale murals and graffiti art. As of now, Taylor intends on staying in Pueblo, working on neighborhood projects and local murals.

The final artist, Steve Wetzel, contributed four non-fiction videos that explored human nature and everyday life, including videos on Minnesota “tick races” and archive films from an inventor.

Wetzel is an assistant professor and director of the graduate program in film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The champion of “anthromentary,” a term Wetzel came up, his films tread the line between anthropology and documentary, hence “anthromentary.”

Assistant professor of contemporary theory/art history and gallery director Caroline Peters expressed her thoughts on some of the art being exhibited as well as the themes of the overall event.

“Pueblo is creating this culture inspired by our own circumstances here,” Peters said in regard to the concept of “community” that was on display. She added that people from Pueblo “should be proud of where they live.”

Peters called the entire event diverse and said that most of what was included escaped categorization and presented art unique to the community it was conceived in.

The Localized Radical exhibit’s closing reception, which was held in Art Room 105 and the Fine Arts Gallery, included discussions by the artists along with a mingling session that allowed the many in attendance to meet and greet.

During this reception Taylor talked about his past, working his way from to Pueblo to college in Boston and mastering his trade. This included showing pictures of his past murals and even those on 2nd and Main Street in Pueblo.

“It’s angst driven. You turn that angst into something productive,” Taylor said of his art.

Taylor eventually discussed the technical aspects involved in his mural painting, including the amount of spray paint he uses, which he guessed around 30 cans for one of his drawings in Pueblo.

This technical talk led to some interesting anecdotes about having to stand on ladders on scaffolding on truck beds just to reach the desired height to work on his mural.

“I’ve never actually fallen off a ladder,” Taylor said, despite the innumerable amount of time he’s spent on them.

Artist Mathew Taylor | Photo by Alec Herrera
Artist Mathew Taylor | Photo by Alec Herrera

The reception moved forward with Wetzel speaking next, though prior to his discussion an unexpected scenario played out before the audience involving the speaker.

Illuminating the casual nature of the reception, Wetzel joked about not being comfortable talking without some sort of sports coat on only to have an audience member offer to lend his sports coat to Wetzel for his talk. Wetzel accepted.

After finding his comfort zone, i.e. coat, Wetzel read an original writing of his about “Truth in Correspondence Theory” and how it relates his art and art in general. The writing explored what it meant for something to be the “truth” and how it relates to “anthromentary.”

In his reading, Wetzel also provided the question, “can you make someone be curious?” He explained that curiosity shows interest and intent to go out of their way to learn more about it or understand it.

While talking about the reception itself, Wetzel claimed he was “surprised they reached so many people on such a beautiful night,” clarifying that you don’t see too many nice nights in February.

In relation to the actual art he said that he was “honored” to be featured in, the gallery gave considerable praise to Woodty’s work calling it “super lovely.”

Wetzel ended the night giving his golden goose egg of advice for aspiring artists, saying “follow your muse,” coupled with, “you got to listen to yourself.”

Artist Steve Wetzel | Photo by Alec Herrera
Artist Steve Wetzel | Photo by Alec Herrera

Woodty, despite not having a designated speech time in front of the audience like his fellow artists, still got the opportunity to converse with those in attendance and comment on the art in the exhibit.

His choice words for Taylor’s mural were “incredible” and “impressive.” Woodty also provided his own inkling of advice saying “express yourself as much as you can.”

The closing reception fittingly capped what was a memorable exhibit with the artists comfortably talking with enthralled audience members, all the while creating the unique sense of community that the exhibit strived to express.

Next month, the Fine Arts Gallery will be showing the work of an artist who was rated the No.1 artist in Colorado under 35 years old by the Denver Post.