It’s no secret that a number of artists — from ceramicists to watercolorists — call Longmont home.
Longmont Artists’ Guild kicked off its summer art show on Thursday. Collectors have until Sunday to peruse the diverse offerings of over 35 creatives, showcasing over 145 new pieces, at LAG’s largest show of the year.
“Art is an outlet for the most challenging feelings and experiences in my life,” said Ana Balzán. “These challenges and feelings went mostly to my sculpture work. Recently, I produced 16 portraits where I wanted to understand and explore the values of all of us, where — no matter our social status, sexual or gender identity, or color of our skin — we are all equal.”
Balzán joined Longmont Artists Guild in 2021 and has since displayed her work in several exhibitions. She has four pieces in this weekend’s show.
“My great love for Colorado landscapes and wildlife is what first got me back to painting again,” said Balzán, who, as a teen studied oil painting under renowned Venezuelan artist Mireya Power.
Balzán, the Venezuela-born creative — who has worked as a graphic designer for over two decades — doesn’t have to look far for natural muses. Balzán often finds inspiration on hikes or while taking a dip in one of her favorite hot springs.
“Whenever I can, I am out there exploring for future paintings,” Balzán said.
Balzán’s subject matter stretches beyond sun-soaked mountains and fields of prickly cacti.
In “Malcome,” Balzán depicts a violinist in the midst of playing.
“I wanted to create movement and the passion that he places in his music,” Balzán said.
From leaves floating on top of a glistening stream to horses resting in a pasture, Balzán’s subject matter is always full of intricate strokes that tell a larger story. She often keeps a camera with her on her outdoor adventures and snaps scenes that catch her attention.
“I think viewers will take some time to look at the details in my paintings,” Balzán said. “I hope they do.”
After this show wraps, Balzán is excited to explore different avenues and to continue creating.
“I have not done abstracts just yet, but they are in my thoughts,” Balzán said. “My sculptures will not be shown at this show. However, this winter I am looking forward to producing a few sculptures that have been roaming in my brain. So next year, viewers can expect them at the LAG summer show.”
An artist reception — complete with live music — will take place 6-8 p.m. Saturday at the Boulder County Fairgrounds.
“I’m looking forward to a fun evening and the chance to network with other artists and to see everyone else’s work,” said Vonalda Utterback, a LAG member who has participated in four shows prior. “We have a lot of talented artists participating.”
Utterback’s work is teeming with clay embellishments that just beg to be touched.
“I’m a mixed-media artist, and my work is frequently tactile and texturized, using many different types of materials,” Utterback said. “My latest body of work, represented in this show, was inspired by a radical Italian art movement from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s called ‘arte povera,’ meaning poor art.”
In her piece “The Deep” — one of the works on display at the show — Utterback utilized rusted elements, a shell she found while vacationing on Padre Island in Texas and even grains of sand.
“Created with common and recycled materials, arte povera worked to break down the separation between art and life and make art accessible to everyone,” Utterback said. “It seemed a perfect fit for me to combine this concept with my love of assemblage, using recycled, natural materials and various found objects to depict the natural world.”
In “Take Flight,” a piece that recently sold, the body of a butterfly is constructed from a nail. In “Grounded,” a collage-like landscape, viewers will see a fence constructed from burlap and rusted material fashioned into a swirly circle to depict the sun.
Odds and ends — twine and discarded tools — often find their way into Utterback’s unique creations.
As part of the show, an artisan gift shop will offer a number of prints and smaller pieces by artists at a variety of price points.
“I will have one-of-kind necklaces, keychains and decorative art mirrors for sale in the shop,” Utterback said. “I really enjoy creating functional and wearable art, which is often a way for someone to own original art at an affordable price.”
In addition to this show providing the public a chance to take home unique pieces, it also offers participating artists a chance to win big at an awards ceremony during Saturday’s artist reception.
“The show is independently judged, with ribbons and prize money for first, second and third place, which is always exciting,” Utterback said.
Rob Lantz — fine art photographer and owner of R Gallery + Wine Bar in Boulder — will be judging the show’s entries.
“When I judge an art exhibit, I first view the exhibit as a whole taking in the artworks and enjoying them,” Lantz said. “Then, for each category I am judging, I revisit the ones that stand out in my mind. I look for the impact each piece has on me — what does it make me feel?”
Winners will be selected in over nine categories.
“To narrow down to a final winner, I look at technique, uniqueness and overall how it represents the category,” Lantz said. “When I have narrowed down to the top few, I have to start getting picky and find the little things that are either a little off to me or are exceptional. It can be a tough process, however, I know art is very personal to the creator so I take it very seriously.”
At his Boulder gallery, Lantz hosts a rotating selection of artists and exhibitions with varying themes throughout the year.
“I am an art lover as well, so as I am honored to be a judge,” Lantz said. “I am also always thrilled to get to view the works. There are so many great artists in the area. It always amazes me what they create, and I’m sure this exhibit will be filled with many pieces that make my picking the winners a challenge.”
Aside from the possibility of taking home awards, most artists are equally enthused about the camaraderie LAG events deliver.
“As for the Longmont art scene, there are so many wonderful, talented artists here, plus I find it accessible and non-pretentious,” Utterback said. “The Longmont Artists’ Guild and the Firehouse Art Center, in particular, have opportunities throughout the year for members to exhibit their work and to make connections. Both groups are also very community-minded, which I appreciate.”
Visitors can view the show 2-5 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday (reception, awards ceremony from 6-8 p.m.) and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont. Find more info at longmontartistsguild.org.