‘Dusty Roads’ exhibit brings Nevada artists’ work together | NevadaAppeal.com

‘Dusty Roads’ exhibit brings Nevada artists’ work together

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer
Amy Lisenbe/Nevada Appeal

Artist Julie La Croix, a regular hiker, takes her inspiration from nature.

The 8-foot-by-10-foot gallery she built onto her Silver City home, with colorful acrylic paintings and coil pottery with bright, shiny glazes and beadwork painstakingly attached, shows nature as the primary theme.

Mugs carry images of horses and mountain lions. Pottery bowls have pine branches, bears, fish and flowers. Coil pots, some made into fountains, show fish, blue herons and bright colors.

“Everything I do has to do with land and animals,” she said. “I love animals.”

Her nature-based work is displayed in a special exhibit at the Comstock History Center in Virginia City, “Dusty Roads Artists’ Trail,” which includes La Croix and five other artists who spent a week last year painting and creating together at St. Mary’s Art Center in Virginia City.

Featured artists include Sidne Teske, Francheskaa Clark, Carol Brown, Erik Holland, Julie LaCroix, and Karen Kreyeski. The culmination of their hard work became a 26-piece exhibit that will travel throughout Nevada. It will be on display until July 20.

The St. Mary’s Art Center program is an attempt to link the many artists sprinkled along Nevada’s sagebrush, pinions and dusty back roads. The artists stayed at the art center and created a mosaic of the state.

One of those creators, La Croix, said she had little control over her work, at least in the beginning.

“I just start with pieces of clay and let it happen.”

Her entries in the Comstock History Center exhibit include a bowl-like sculpture in a natural color with a blue bear and blue fish going in opposite directions, and black dots making swirls around them, giving the impression the bear and fish are in motion.

A coil pot made of clay includes beads of crystal and glass strung through several tiny holes in the pot.

Blues, greens and natural shades are glazed to a shiny, bright finish.

“Glaze is a little brighter, a little deeper,” she said of her most common technique, though she also creates painted slips for her pottery. “Glaze takes three coats, the slips are just one.”

All her paintings are acrylic, and the one that hangs in the exhibit is a image of quails in a field with mountains in the distance in both day and night scenes. One side shows daylight and a beautiful blue sky, while the other shows night, with a black, star-lit sky.

“I think a lot about time in my work,” she said. “I guess because I don’t understand time.”

She also includes real early American motifs such as petroglyph symbols.

Horses are a common theme in her work, and she said she misses the wild herds that used to come through Silver City. They stay away mostly, now, she said, due to people’s complaints and past roundups.

One of her horses she created so high up on a painting that it had no neck and head. Asked why she painted it that way, she responded, “Because that’s how I saw it.”

La Croix said she starts a painting by just putting colors up on a canvas, then something comes to her and she paints that.

“I do spirits a lot,” she said, pointing to a painting of a ghost lizard in a desert scene.

She doesn’t use a pottery wheel, partly because of a bad back, and partly because “everything comes out round.”

So her pottery is hand-thrown, and unique. One slab of clay on her gallery wall has the figure of a bear pushed out in the center. There are also coil flower pots made to look like baskets among her functional art, along with the mugs and casseroles.

For the coil pots with beadwork, she said she had to teach herself first how to bead and then bead on pottery.

“The thin and thick are hard to put together,” she said. “You fire it differently.She’s been an artist for about 40 years, starting in Reno and quickly moving to Virginia City and eventually settling in Silver City.

All of her work is for sale, though she doesn’t get out to art shows much, preferring to sell by word-of-mouth and from a show she has every winter at her tiny gallery and home.

– Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or by calling 881-7351.