Attitude and emotion

Two artists present their views of the world around them in new Depot exhibit

— Oil paintings and bronze sculptures will line the walls and hardwood floors of the Arts Center at the Depot from now until April as Bonnie McGee and Wayne Salge's work presents itself to art lovers.

Earthy hues and outdoor land- and seascapes describe McGee's wall paintings. Whether it is the tropics of the Bahamas or a shoreline in Scotland, the outdoors theme seems to be McGee's passion.

"I think I'm a mud season person," McGee said. "About half of my work is painted outdoors, the other is composites of photographs."

Along with the numerous wall hangings, statues of bronze sculptures are dispersed around the gallery room. Horses and women in dark or green-tinted bronze compose most of Salge's artwork. The disproportional figurines add creativity, while his eye for the unnoticed aspects of living beings give viewers a curiosity already perceived.

"I try to exaggerate pleasing shapes," Salge said of his sculptures of women with large buttocks and hips. "I'm not too concerned with realism."

Broad landscapes representing vast solitude are expressed in McGee's oil paintings without descriptive detail. She said she refers to the paintings in this series as "Inhabited Solitude."

McGee remembered a story when she and her husband were in Papua, New Guinea. A boat of New Zealanders came over to a group of natives that were on the island. She took a photograph of the little boy from New Zealand and the other little boy from Papua New Guinea that played together like old friends.

A reproduction of the scene and the photograph is a part of McGee's series, and its simple flavor is representative of the common tastes among the world.

"I would like to have my work capture what touches people emotionally," McGee said. "That piece means so much to me."

Born in Chicago in the late 1940s, McGee circumnavigated the world on her yacht in the mid 1980s, which is seen through many of her water theme canvases, after teaching English during the 1970s and early 1980s. But classrooms became stuffy and sailing became the life that most people only dream. But after selling yachts in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, McGee moved to Steamboat Springs to find her interest in skiing, fly-fishing, hiking and climbing and started making a living.

Being a nature lover is evident through McGee's oils. She attended summer classes at the Art Institute of Chicago at age 9, and only painted on and off until three years ago. After attending the Plein Air Painters of America workshop in Steamboat, McGee's could no longer keep the paintbrushes and oils in the closet any longer.

While selling real estate in Steamboat throughout the '90s, McGee has served as the president of the Steamboat Springs Arts Council Board and president of the Strings in the Mountains Guild.

McGee's passion for nature portrays itself through her more recent work of famous and unrecognized spots in the Steamboat area.

With a different eye for creating art pieces, Salge also finds his inspiration in nature, but through the geometries of a figure that distinguishes his sculptures.

Although he has no math background, his square-shaped horses and women try to give pieces a metallic look.

"I like sharp angles ... to give people a line to follow," Salge said.

Also born in the 1940s, Salge studied at La Villita School of Art and San Antonio College in Texas. While finding jobs as an Army illustrator in Viet Nam and as a free lance graphic designer in Denver a few years later, Salge opted for bronze and stone sculpturing in his studio in Johnstown.

"I give an attitude to a piece to get an emotion," Salge said, adding that someone once said his art was whimsical, even though he disagreed.

While he only watches the horses now instead of riding them, Salge said they lend themselves to sculpture well because of their personality and connection with human beings.

"I think our work complements each other," McGee said of she and Salge's artwork.

McGee said the play of sunlight becomes her main attraction when she's out with her horse or driving through town. And painting outdoor life, or plein air, especially challenges her paintings skills.

"You have limitations because the sun is changing and it forces you to paint fast," McGee said. "But when it grabs you, you know it's really special."

Although she said her art needs more work and experience, she would one day like people to look at her paintings and not believe a place like that could be so beautiful.

Her desire of viewers having an emotional connection with her paintings comes from her connection with an oil painting of Eldridge Hardie. Everyday when she looks at the Snake River in Jackson Hole, Wyo., Hardie touches her and brings her into a part of a world she loves.

"I want a painting of mine to be in an apartment in New York City ... and that my artwork can have an emotional effect on people," McGee said.

The Arts Center at the Depot is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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