ELEVATED | Feasting on Robots

08/21/14 | By | More
ROBOT ART - Artist Dave Pressler's droll take on automations is on exhibit through Sept. 3 at Gallery 81435 in Telluride. (Courtesy image)

ROBOT ART – Artist Dave Pressler’s droll take on automations is on exhibit through Sept. 3 at Gallery 81435 in Telluride. (Courtesy image)

‘Robots’ in Telluride

“I always liked robot toys,” explained artist Dave Pressler of the genesis of his automaton-designs. “And I’m really terrible at drawing people. I never got the gestures or facial expressions right.”

But his work is spot-on in his exhibit, “Robots,” particularly if droll-and-whimsical animated machines appeal (and even if they don’t, this show will likely win you over).

Pressler, co-creator and designer of the Emmy-nominated series Robot and Monster on Nickelodeon, is an animator by day; before that, he was a stand-up comic. “Once I got into art, it all came together,” he said. From stand-up comedy, he learned to inhabit a personality “from the inside out.” He also learned how important the timing of a joke is. He fused these two human instincts with his love of robots to make his art, on exhibit at Gallery 81435. “There are so many typical robots,” he said. “They look like people or are riffs on toys,” but if you can get the contrast between man and machine just right, in Pressler’s hands (and with his sensibility), the result is wry wit and gentle irony.

Take, for instance, his warrior robot, spear clenched firmly at its side, improbably clad in a dapper chapeau. “I liked the nutty juxtaposition between this horrible, possibly murderous machine wearing a nice little top hat,” he said. Or his Gas-Powered Dragon (so much for fearsome flames). Or his fresh, silly take on that raging Great Ape of the urban jungle, King Kong: “Angry Clobber Monkey”(in case you’re unconvinced, the monkey’s t-shirt reads, So Very Angry). In studies for Clobber Monkey on Pressler’s website, the simian wears an expression of complete exhaustion.

Pressler lives in Los Angeles. “I feel like L.A. is in interesting place for Pop Art,” he said, a place where animators are employed by the voracious TV and movie industries by day, and exhibit their extracurricular work to feed their souls, not pad their bank accounts. “We’re like a blue-collar art community,” he remarked. Pressler came to art exhibits by way of his bulging sketchbooks; he would take his robotic ideas on “casting calls” for numerous animated series, he explained, though network brass rarely bit (until, that is, Nickelodeon came along). Along the way, “I heard a lot of, ‘Fantastic!’ Or, ‘Great!’ Or, ‘LOVE the robot,’” he said. But almost always, producers would add, “It’s just not right for this show.” As his ideas continued to pile up, Pressler wondered, “Why not sculpt or draw these and exhibit them?”

Totally right for this show.

“Robots” remains on display at Gallery 81435 through September 3rd; regular hours are 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily or by appointment. To see more of Pressler’s work, visit davepresslerart.com.

Feasts for the Senses

Just two nights left to join Feasting On History, the Telluride Historical Museum’s annual fundraiser that combining an entertaining stroll through town with swings through some of its best spots for food and drink. “It’s not just a normal food tour,” said the museum’s Executive Director, Erica Kinias; indeed, there’ll be “a few special guests” popping up along the way. Cast members of Telluride Theatre, for example, will impersonate historic characters at key spots – such as the Red Light district – and can be counted on for a few saucy comments.

And then there are the restaurants, which this year include (in order) The River Club, there…, La Marmotte, Smuggler’s Brew Pub, Arroyo, Telluride Truffle and Flavor Telluride, where guests will tuck into a full repast from Chef Eric Eckert; last week’s edition of Feasting featured “a really wonderful fish and vegetable dish and a savory bread pudding,” Kinias said. “It’s been my favorite stop of the tour.” At press time, just two spots remained for tonight’s tour, and 10 for Friday. Saturday night’s event is sold out. To purchase tickets, visit telluridemuseum.org.

For those who still can’t get enough of mushrooms after last week’s Festival, The San Juan Four Corners Native Plant Society offers its final tour of the season, Wild Mushroom Hunting with John Sir Jesse, near Lizard Head Pass this Saturday. Jesse has been offering mushroom strolls in the region since the 1970s; “we will stroll the woods to gather a number of mushroom species and then we will drive to John Sir Jesse’s house to feast on them at an early dinner,” according to a description of the outing on the Native Plant Society’s website. (If you plan to make the trip to Sir Jesse’s house, please bring a potluck dish to share.)

This annual trip fills up fast, but earlier this week, a couple of spots remained. Reach John Sir Jesse at 970/728-0639 or email him at herbwalkertours@earthlink.net.

One last indulgence for the senses, this one musical: on Sunday, the Celtic band FEAST, which is much loved on the Western Slope yet appears in concert infrequently, offers a musical performance to benefit the Libraries of Montrose County Foundation. The event is at 3 p.m. at the Pavilion. FEAST’s concerts usually sell out; this one is free. Donations are much appreciated.


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