Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Creating windows to the world

Julie Speidel?s sculpture captures a Sun Valley spirit

Express Staff Writer

?Shey Gompa? bronze triptych of a sacred place in the Inner Dolpo region of Nepal.

Julie Speidel's totemic and megalith sculpture forms can be found adorning homes and yards of many Sun Valley residents. Speidel's work is not the typical homage to the region's wildlife or inherent activities. Rather, her sculptures are an offering to ancient cultures whose influences have a spiritual and mythical effect on modern life.

"I started working with Gail Severn 25 years ago and always enjoyed summer and winter hiking and camping in Sun Valley," Speidel said. "There is no way you don't see nature and not participate."

Speidel's work is inspired from sacred and spiritual locations around the world, places she has visited or discovered from her dedication to studying mythology. Titling her sculptures after spiritual ancient sites, Speidel finds a common connection to such figures in almost every culture around the globe.

"All over the world people without machines would build these sacred sites," Speidel said. "They were dealing with seasons and paying attention to nature."

The many pieces she has created and find their way in and around Sun Valley reveal Speidel's organic sensibility and reflect the importance of nature and season of the region.

"I named pieces after gods and goddesses and sacred sites because all cultures share a similar need for powerful figures that will guide them," Speidel said.

Speidel said her fountain piece, "Anticlea," makes a wall and becomes a frame for nature creating a live painting.

"I think there is a frame for nature," Speidel said. "Nature is so huge, and you make it smaller by putting it in scale when looking through the sculpture."

Besides the frames and windows to the world, Speidel also embodies a certain sense of symmetry.

"When I make a sculpture, I walk around it and become lost in it," she said. "I become awed like I do when I look at a tree."

Speidel's totemic sculpture "Sambara" looks as if it is taking a picture through the trees revealing a human quality while entrenched in nature. Perhaps the ancient names are primeval, but Speidel's sculpture is anything but ancient. Her modern flare includes rounded viewfinders along sharp edges of grounded pieces.

"I've been told that I evoke a deep innate response for form," Speidel said. "My work is very linear and organic like a room."

The many pieces that Speidel has created in and around Sun Valley are all connected by a history. Her "Shey Gompa" bronze triptych is titled after a sacred place in the Inner Dolpo region of Nepal. The trio was featured in the Sun Valley Gallery Association's sculpture garden last summer and has inspired individual pieces as well.

"I think it will be wonderful to talk to people, answer questions and get the reaction," she said. "It's not always what drives you to do things. It's amorphous. You put out there and then you get the reaction."

In her new show, "Sibu," through July 29, 2007, at the Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum, Speidel will exhibit a collection of bronze and glass sculptures, which are iconic and figurative, inspired by ancient civilization deities. "Sibu" is the name of the creator god from the Andean people of Peru.

Speidel will also be present for an artist's chat on Saturday, July 7, at the Gail Severn Gallery in Ketchum at 10 a.m.

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