Artifacts Gallery opens new shows this weekend

Mike Easterling
Work by Deborah Gorton will be featured in a show opening this weekend at the Artifacts Gallery.

FARMINGTON – Mixed-media artist Deborah Gorton says her husband often casts quizzical looks at her when she’s sifting through found, cast-off objects that may or may not make their way into one of her works.

“He’ll say, ‘What’s that?’ It may look like something rusted to him, but it’s got potential to me,” said Gorton, who will be showing her figurative assemblages in a show opening this weekend at the Artifacts Gallery.

Gorton said she’ll be showing 13 to 15 such pieces in the show, each of which will feature a sculpted head attached to a vintage found object. The pieces all feature titles that reflect their contents and usually carry a whimsical connotation.

By way of example, Gorton said she once crafted a piece made of the inner workings of a piano and called it “Piano Man.” In another instance, she salvaged a burned-off sauce pan handle that she found in her mother’s kitchen. Gorton used it in a piece called “When Things Get Hot Sometimes You Get Burned.” In still another case, she worked a battered antique alarm clock someone had given her into a piece she dubbed “The Idea Machine.”

Deborah Gorton

For Gorton, the artistic process is as simple as pulling out items from her collection — she likes to comb Durango-area second-hand shops for pieces – and start playing around with them while pondering snatches of conversation in her head. Inspiration arrives in the form of a physical structure for the piece and an everyday phrase that seems to match it.

“I like finding something, whether I’ve purchased it in an antique store or somebody has given it to me, and trying to figure out a way to use it that would give it a whimsical play on words.”

It’s a challenge she enjoys.

“It’s fun,” she said. “It’s like putting together puzzles.”

Gorton also will be bringing with her some smaller, framed encaustic mixed-media pieces, but the focus of her show will be assemblages. She’s bringing along two of her favorite pieces.

The first features a very small door from a doll house with a head on it. Gorton said the piece represents a door opening.

The second is called “Discombobulated” and features little blocks with pages from an old book attached to them. That piece earned a “Best of Show” award at a Durango Arts Center exhibition, she said.

“They all tend to get little personalities,” Gorton said of her pieces.

Artifacts owner Bev Taylor said she believes the work of Gorton, and Farmington artist Maria Kompare, who also will be showing mixed-media work, pairs well with “The Art of Small Things” exhibition that also opens this weekend. She said Gorton’s work invites close examination.

“She makes it interesting to get up close and personal and study what’s in the piece,” Taylor said.

Gorton often leads workshops on mixed-media collage work in the Four Corners area, and Taylor said she has committed to doing a workshop at Artifacts in the future.

Farmington artist Maria Kompare is opening a new show this weekend at Artifacts Gallery.

The work of Kompare is likely to be more familiar to Artifacts regulars, as she has a studio space in the gallery. In her artist’s statement, Kompare said she likes to take bits and pieces of color, shape and texture from various sources and give them new life in a fresh environment. She is a member of the New Mexico Arts Commission, and has shown her work throughout the United States and abroad.

Taylor said the pieces Kompare is featuring in her work at Artifacts are all paper collage, some hand painted and others found.

The pieces featured in “The Art of Small Things” have been created by a number of area residents who responded to an open call for artists. Taylor said the artists were free to interpret the show’s theme however they liked from its title, and that resulted in a wide range of submissions in media ranging from three-dimensional sculpture pieces to photography.

“We have a whole variety of things,” she said. “The idea was just to get people to think about the size of things.”

The work from the three shows will remain on display through June 4.

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

If you go

What: Opening reception for “The Art of Small Things,” and exhibitions by Maria Kompare and Deborah Gorton

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 13

Where: The Artifacts Gallery, 302 E. Main St. in downtown Farmington

For more information: Call 505-327-2907