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Beauty in the basic

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Elliot Norquist has a thing for shapes and colors. And, it makes sense, having settled in the Rocky Mountains, atop Missouri Heights, with towering triangular peaks permeating the horizon and the seemingly daily changes of colors.
Norquist, a metal sculptor, has a show opening at the Launchpad on First Friday, Oct. 7, with a reception at 5 p.m. The exhibit is a retrospective of his works — some new, and others spanning the artist’s career — called “Simple Shapes.”
“I’m not into mystery,” Norquist told The Sopris Sun, “I’m more into matter-of-fact bull****.”
Fittingly, one of his series is called the “Folding Steel Series”, and another, “Steel Envelopes Series”.
“I like naming,” the artist claimed with a smirk. “I’m a good namer.”
According to Norquist, he’s had a ball curating the retrospective exhibit. “What’s really cool for me, is going through old work,” noting that it’s taken a lot of “good research into the past to conjure this up,” including delving into an old journal. “I loved it,” he said.
Lately, to begin his process, he’ll fold paper in varying, yet simple, ways which he will later mimic when shaping steel. He’ll likewise apply color to paper before settling on the right tone for a final piece.
The dimensions of his works range from a human-sized “Shipping Tag” to replicating similarly large pieces from the “Folding Steel Series” into magnets small enough to share space on any already-crowded refrigerator door.
Norquist attended the Kansas City Art Institute as an undergraduate and recalled the die-hard devotion of fellow artists he studied with. He remembered classmates sleeping in the bucket of a forklift in the shop, so they could wake up and pick up where they left off without delay. It’s hard work, he said, and those who commit to it will sacrifice plenty of hours to get it done.
Norquist first came to the Valley in the early ‘70s. He taught during summer sessions at Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS). At the time, he was working toward his master’s in sculpture at the University of Oregon.
After grad school, Norquist upped his role at CRMS. On top of teaching art classes, he ran the school’s wilderness program and coached cross country.
In 1978, Santa Fe — an artist haven at the time in comparison to the Valley — beckoned the artist. He answered its call and considered Santa Fe home for nearly 20 years.
He couldn’t keep away from the Valley for too long, though. When his son, Fred, decided to attend CRMS, Norquist jumped at the opportunity and said, “We’re going with you.” The Valley has kept him ever since.
Up until recently, Norquist has been flexible when it came to studio space. He’s made do by sharing creative territory with others, including Michael Hassig, who ended up designing Norquist’s current, shop in an old hay barn next to his home, with a prime view of Mt. Sopris.
“Simple Shapes” will be on display through Nov. 4 at the Launchpad. For more details regarding Norquist’s works, visit his website:

Tags: #Art #Carbondale Arts #Elliot Norquist #R2 Gallery #sculpture #The Launchpad
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