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Visitors applaud ‘Down To The Bone’ at SHY RABBIT

SHY RABBIT opened its latest exhibit, “Down To The Bone” to an enthusiastic crowd on Saturday, drawing in a large number of local and out of town visitors and friends.

This long awaited two-person exhibit continues through July 31, featuring 24 uniquely creative sculptures by Colorado artists Chris Haas and Amy K. Wendland.

These artworks are intended to attract and disquiet, to seduce and repel, to bring harmony and imbalance. They are foreign and odd, yet curiously familiar.

By combining found objects and natural materials, Haas and Wendland get “Down To the Bone,” breathing new life into the previously abandoned and forgotten, and creating a vibrant new world without rules.

Incorporating mixed media, Haas infuses a mystical aura into reclaimed animal skulls, meticulously reanimating them back into a different dimension and character.

Using wood, bone, hair, dried plants and discarded mechanical parts, Wendland enters into a dialog of discovery and recognition, addressing human foibles and fears with humor and integrity.

Haas was born in Hays, Kans., in 1973. His earliest artistic influence came from his mother and grandmother, who continuously encouraged him to pursue a creative path.

Haas was never without a drawing tablet, and began developing his own personal style at a very early age.

In contrast to the simple Kansas environment, the characters he drew came from an imagined distortion of reality and an innate compulsion to create.

“I have been infatuated with art and wildlife since childhood,” states Haas. “When I was around seven years old, I found a possum that my friend’s dad had exterminated and discarded in the field. It seemed clearly rational and almost urgent that I somehow make use of this amazing find.

“I ran home and grabbed a steak knife and small Tupperware container from my Mom’s kitchen then hurried back,” he continues.

Haas then dismembered the possum and carefully placed it in the container, covering it with vinegar.

“I wanted to preserve it in formaldehyde, but the closest thing I could find in mom’s kitchen was vinegar.”

Haas left Kansas in 1991, and headed to southwest Colorado to snowboard the powder of Wolf Creek, all the while continuing to solidify his own signature style.

Haas has developed a much more delicate respect of combining art with nature since the possum episode of his childhood. His passion for art has now turned into a preoccupation with collecting animal skulls.

Using mixed media and meticulous craftsmanship, Haas reanimates the skulls into a new dimension, providing them with a second lease on life.

Realistic lion eyes shine out of a deer skull that has been placed on an ornately scrolled mount and finished with a jeweled third eye.

“My series of skull sculptures are labor intensive and therefore I inevitably form a close relationship with each skull. Using clay, latex, wood, jewelry, taxidermy products and paint, I employ the skulls as my canvases. I am truly grateful for the gift of nature and for the privilege to adorn its bony leftovers,” Haas concludes.

Additional information about Haas and Wendland will appear in future PREVIEW articles.

SHY RABBIT Contemporary Arts; Gallery, Studio and Workshops is located at 333 Bastille Drive; two blocks north of U.S. 160, off of North Pagosa Boulevard, west of the City Market complex.

SHY RABBIT houses a fine art gallery and working ceramic studio, two mixed-media workshops and rotating exhibition spaces.

For more information on SHY RABBIT, visit www.shyrabbit.com or call 731-2766.

SHY RABBIT is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 4: p.m. — at no charge — and evenings by appointment. Ample parking is available in front of the building.

For more information on SHY RABBIT, e visit www.shyrabbit.com or call 731-2766.

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