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Weyrich’s ‘Color Play: Textiles and Clay’ features gorgeous works

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Some shows are just plain gorgeous. The Weyrich Gallery is hosting “Color Play: Textiles and Clay” with work by master weaver Donna Loraine Contractor and fine art ceramicist Charles La Fond that will open eyes wide through Feb. 23. The show also features beautifully crafted tea trays by Mark Foster, but this review will focus on the major works by Contractor and La Fond.

“Water Into a Mossy Pond” by Charles La Fond celebrates the natural elements in the “Color Play: Textiles and Clay” exhibition at the Weyrich Gallery.

Contractor is a well-established world-class weaver who happened upon New Mexico as a student at St. John’s College in Santa Fe. Nearly a quarter-century ago, Contractor moved to Albuquerque and opened a studio in Nob Hill. She says her love of machinery, as well as the joy she feels while working with color, drew her to the weaving loom.

She uses hand-dyed wool and prodigious skills to weave tightly wound yarn into elegant patterns within two main formats. Carpenter either works within squares or long vertical rectangles to create visionary structures.

Like all other weavers, Contractor incorporates the natural helical structure of yarn to articulate the web of the natural universe, just as the helical structure of DNA echoes spiral galaxies, the true path of the Earth through the cosmos and the symbolic stone spirals ritually walked by the ancients.

“Lavender Moon” by Charles La Fond incorporates a slice of a geode while drawing inspiration from classical vessel forms.

In such works as “Summer Tea,” Contractor employs the ancient Greek golden section system of proportion to compose her design based upon a spiral configuration. The design is made up of a series of rectangles diminishing in size as they near the center of an invisible spiral.

Most of Contractor’s compositions begin within a window format, but instead of creating windows onto our chaotic and often ridiculous “real” world, she offers visions of an inner world in another dimension where order, beauty and tranquillity reign. All of her beautifully crafted textiles are, by their nature, zones of contemplation and resting places.

Sit down, have a cup of tea, read a poem or just stare into her images until they become your actual world, where you may hear the roaring silence of being.

La Fond is at once an artist, spiritual leader, author and owner of the Setting Moon Pottery. He is involved in a variety of causes, including aid to the homeless. But his dynamically designed and executed vessel forms speak volumes about La Fond’s love of materials, the earth on which we live and the four elements that make ceramic art possible.

In “Lavender Moon” and “Delight,” La Fond incorporates a slice of a geode and a fully formed quartz crystal cluster. Add luscious glazes and classically inspired vessel forms, and you have two visual and tactile extravaganzas.

In Mexican Huichol Indian myth the spirit of the Shaman resides in his or her skeleton after death until the Shaman’s spirit evolves into rock crystal, the highest state of being. Quartz crystal grows within a helical structure.

La Fond may be incorporating shamanic spirituality into his ceramic art. It sure feels that way upon observation. Another knockout vessel is “Temple Night,” an elegant vertical jar with variegated glazes and a stunning form.

One of my favorites is “Water Into a Mossy Pond” a drop-dead gorgeous, wide-open vase with a long stem. The nearly clear glazes form a puddle in the center that looks as if a wet finger would result from touching it.

This is one of the best shows I’ve seen lately. Don’t miss it.