Exhibit a collage of primitive cultures

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By Sara Miller

Our world has become a complex and sophisticated place, and we can often lose ourselves in the maze of technology, transit and tight deadlines. In these complicated times, it often pays to slow down and enjoy the Earth’s fundamental patterns and resources — the simple things that make us feel more connected to the origins of life. For this reason, “Primitive Tapestries,” the latest show at the Evergreen Gallery, was born.

“As a potter, I am very enamored with ancient techniques and cultures,” says Meryl Sabeff, owner of the Evergreen Gallery. “I love the very old and repetitive patterning that was used by primitive cultures. This show was actually inspired by my neighbors, who are from South Africa. They have an amazing collection of woven tapestries and artifacts from their travels around the world,”

“Primitive Tapestries” doesn’t contain any tapestries in the traditional sense but instead is woven of the works of 12 Colorado artists who use the textures, colors and imagery of our world’s indigenous cultures.

Morrison-based artist Beth Erlund captures the essence of “primitive” in both her techniques and subject matter. Erlund is a wildlife artist who specializes in the ancient artform of batik. Batik is at least 2000 years old and has been maintained as an art form in Egypt, China, Japan and Indonesia. Batik-making is a process of producing a design with the use of wax resist and dyes.

Erlund has created a jungle of batik originals and prints for this show. The centerpiece of her work in this exhibition is titled “The Chase” and depicts a leopard in hot pursuit of two fleeing gazelles.

Hilarey Walker approaches the “primitive” theme in a more three-dimensional way. Walker, a longtime animal lover, has created a series of raku masks representing horses, zebras, baboons and more. Walker uses reeds, branches and other natural elements combined with hammered tin and decorative bangles to create stylized animals that are adorned with jewelry — similar to those found in the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt.

In a more modern approach, Wendy Sollod, a Boulder artist, contributed a selection of jewelry. Sollod’s brooches have the look of African masks. These masks are made with a whimsical backdrop of colorful polymer clay. Facial accents are created with coffee beans, raffia and other natural elements.

Other pieces in the show include functional pottery, colorful paintings on cedar blocks, and even two black-and-white woodblock prints fashioned by Steve Sumner, the executive director of the Center for the Arts Evergreen.

The Evergreen Galley has gathered a small but exquisite collection of art forms and depictions that weaves a true tapestry of our multicultural world. “Primitive Tapestries” is on display at the Evergreen Gallery through May 15. For more information, call 303-674-4871 or visit www.theevergreengallery.com.

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