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Ambrosier’s exhibit weaves threads of his life

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By Sara Miller

Hearing pastel artist Roger Ambrosier describe his work gives the pieces a second life. Although Ambrosier’s meditative landscapes evoke deep emotion without explanation, the paintings truly come alive when the artist reveals the inspiration behind each work. “Threads of Time,” Ambrosier’s one-man show at the Center/Stage Rotary Gallery in Evergreen, provides visitors with unique insight into an artist who spends as much time crafting the perfect scene in his heart as he does doing it justice on paper.

George Innis, an American landscape painter known for defining the Tonalist movement, once said, “Suggest to me reality, but never show me reality.” With art being a visual medium, it’s hard to deny that Ambrosier’s work depicts a semblance of reality — rich with freshly mown hay fields, a meandering creek or frostbitten cornstalks. However, spend a few minutes taking in the paintings, and you will see and feel much more.

“If you just paint the surface of a tree — the bark and the grass surrounding it — you have a great illustration. For me, art is about what goes on beneath the surface of it all,” says Ambrosier.

In a painting titled “Last Dove Song,” round hay bales are stacked in front of a lone tree. Standing in front of the painting, you can almost smell the earthy heat that wafts from within the rolls and feel your lungs fill with the humid haze that envelops a late-July evening in the Midwest. It becomes apparent that the piece is not about the physical elements present in the scene, but instead the mood that this moment in time creates.

Although, Ambrosier has lived in Colorado for almost 40 years, he draws inspiration from the rural landscapes and seasons of his Midwest upbringing in Maysville, Mo. Ambrosier was born on his great-grandparents’ farm and still has a home on the land homesteaded by his ancestors.

“Growing up, I used to roam the fields and walk the crick for hours. Now, when I head back to the Midwest to paint, I spend my time within a pretty powerful triangle. My little house and studio sit on the homesteaded land. The right angle from the house points to the farm where I was born. The left angle leads to the cemetery where all of my relatives are buried. I feel such a connection to the land and earth back there. That’s where I draw my inspiration,” says Ambrosier.

Ambrosier is also a firm believer in drawing inspiration from the artistic masters who came before. His work is heavily influenced by the 19th-century painters from the Barbizon school in France and the American Tonalists from the same period.

“There is so much that has come before each of us. It all plays into the symbolism of my work. That’s why this show is so important. The ‘Threads of Time’ all come together, and you hope they’ve created something that is a true representation of your life,” says Ambrosier.

Ambrosiers’s work has been honored with numerous awards, including Best of Show in the Mid-America Pastel Society National Pastel Exhibition and Best of Show in the Pastel Society of Colorado Mile-High National Exhibition.

“Thread of Time” runs from Nov. 11 through Dec. 24 at the Rotary Gallery at Center/Stage. The opening reception will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 11.

Ambrosier will also conduct an artist workshop titled “Personal Approach to Pastel” on Nov. 11 from 9 to noon at Center/Stage. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss Ambrosier’s influences and the symbolism. The workshop offers a unique glimpse at the genesis of one artist’s work and how this historic and spiritual base can translate to the work of others. The workshop is $35. Participants should call the Center for the Arts Evergreen at 303-674-0056 to register.

Sara Miller, a freelance writer and a resident of Evergreen, lives with her husband, two children and a dog.