Batik artist Beth Erlund featured at the Gathering at the Great Divide Art Festival in Breckenridge
Special to the Daily
If you go
What: Gathering at the Great Divide Art Festival
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday
Where: N. Main St. at Wellington, Breckenridge
Cost: Admission is free
More information: Visit http://www.mountainartfestivals.com
Batik artist Beth Erlund is a long-timer in the Kingdom of Breckenridge, and she’s never even lived here.
From Morrison, Erlund also calls Homosassa, Fla., home and is among the 117 juried artists exhibiting their works at the 38th annual Gathering at the Great Divide Art Festival, Saturday through Monday. This event is the longest standing art show in the region, and Erlund is one of those who have participated in most of them.
“I started doing the Breckenridge shows in 1982 and have done at least one of the festivals every year since then, sometimes doing two or all three,” Erlund said. “Dick Cunningham had one on Memorial weekend and Labor Day the first time I was there before he sold the shows to Mark Beling and Judith Pollock.
“I do approximately 30 shows per year — from Washington state to Maryland, down to Florida, west to Arizona, with some Midwest shows thrown in for good measure.”
In addition to her artistic side, Erlund produces an annual show in Evergreen.
“As director of the Evergreen Fine Arts Festival, I see the festival business from both sides,” she said. “The Breckenridge Mountain Arts Festivals are some of the best in Colorado and are equal to most of the festivals I attend across the country. The quality and variety is outstanding, and the chance for the public to personally interact with that caliber of artists is a great experience.”
Erlund said she does a lot of nature-related art and she thinks many of the people who come to Breckenridge, whether to live or visit, enjoy the outdoors.
“They like both the scenery and the critters, both of which I also love,” she said. “By collecting my work, they get to have a little piece of my vision of nature to take home and enjoy. I want my people to see that vision every day and feel joy.”
Erlund’s husband, Dennis Johnson, is also an artist, and they collaborate on ideas and many techniques.
“He has been my best critic and supporter for over 28 years, and I can’t imagine trying to do this on my own,” Erlund said. “Together, we run a business that ought to have at least four more worker bees.”
In addition, she said, her good friend, Carol Robinson, helps at shows.
“As a former gallery saleswoman and an artist herself, Carol provides great assistance at many of my shows,” Erlund said. “This is a very hard business to be in if you are alone, so I feel blessed to have had such good companions.”
Asian art form
Erlund was born in the Texas Hill Country and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in zoology from Louisiana State University. After working in research at Tulane University, she spent 2 1/2 years, in Japan, exploring many of the oriental art forms, and fell in love with the art of batik.
“In this medium, I find the challenges of design and color to be never-ending,” she said.
Her love of nature influences her choices of subject matter, and she enjoys researching her subjects in their natural environments. Erlund’s art begins as an on-site sketch in ink and watercolor or a plein air oil painting. She also takes many photographs to aid her research. These become the basis for her final sketch on cotton or silk, which will ultimately become the batik.
Batik is at least 2,000 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 resist and dyes. Hot wax is the traditional resist and is applied with a brass cup mounted on a wooden handle, Erlund said.
The waxing and dyeing process is repeated on natural fibers, working from the lightest color to the darkest until the design is complete. Then most of the wax is removed, revealing a combination of careful planning, technical and artistic craftsmanship and unpredictable character in the form of “crackle.” Encaustic wax may be added to increase texture and luminosity.
For more info on batik artist Beth Erlund, visit her website at http://www.erlundjohnsonstudios.com.
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