November’s First Friday Art Openings at The Modbo and SPQR: Tom Vail and Matt Chmielarczyk


The Modbo and S.P.Q.R. proudly present November’s First Friday Art Opening in the Arts Alley District on Friday, November 7th, from 5:30 pm til midnight.  The Modbo will host “Create Your Own Dystopia” by Tom Vail, while SPQR features “11442” by Matt Chmielarczyk.  This show runs through Friday, November 21st. The galleries are located at 17b and 17c East Bijou, 80903. 719.633.4240.

About the shows:

In the Modbo:

One man’s safe, middle class utopia is another’s frightening dystopia. Come share your vision with collage artist Tom Vail. “Create your own Dystopia” is an experiment in collective art: Tom will provide elements, backgrounds, glue, beer, pretzels and peanuts. You will provide the macabre vision. Works generated from this experiment will be exhibited later at Ivywild School in Colorado Springs. This orgy of collaborative collage will occur during the opening reception of Tom’s show, in which he will also display recent works of his collage art. A new avenue of exploration for Tom is his series called “elements.” These prints are collections of similarly themed images in a single-colored field. Suppose ET wrote a sociological treatise on our civilization– Tom’s “elements” would represent the book’s illustrations. Viewed altogether, they look like color plates of specimens from an old science text.


11442 is the postal code for Coney Island, New York.  The images in this show were all made on the 4th of July, 2012, just months before Hurricane Sandy made landfall and rendered it’s  devastating changes.

“Pictures, regardless of how they are created and recreated, are intended to be looked at. This brings to the forefront not the technology of imaging, which of course is important, but rather what we might call the eyenology (seeing).”  -Henri Cartier-Bresson

Says Chmielarczyk, “Long before I knew the content of the work I would show in this exhibition I knew of the path I wanted that work to follow.  I wanted to pay tribute to an analog tradition, but embrace the inherent dexterity of the newest and best technology.  A lot of time and energy is spent debating the merits and the minefields of the newest method of capture, or the oldest.  We find ourselves clinging to these methods as if they were right or wrong.   We contemplate things like purity and patriarchy alongside progress and pragmatism and are forced to feel the inevitable need to take sides.  Our choices of method give us a freedom that can point us toward great creative paths.  Our ability to limit the scope of our choices scratches deep into scenarios we might not have otherwise considered. 11442 is the latest in a series that squares itself up to the forest of choices inherent in art- a contemplation on the limitations of time, tools, and geography.”

About the artists:

Tom Vail was born in Hollywood, California in 1946, and attended Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles until 1969. He moved to the Bay Area in 1969, where he was represented by Reese Palley Gallery in San Francisco and participated in group shows at the San Francisco Museum of Art, Richmond Art Center, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, and Cincinnati Art Museum. In 1976, Vail had a one man show at Washington State University, Gallery II. In 1975 Tom and his wife moved to Huerfano, Colorado where Tom mostly designed and built houses in their rural community. They raised three daughters there and he retired from the construction field to work on his art, full-time, in 2009. Says Vail, “For over 40 years I have been making photo collages. In the last decade I have been making limited edition giclee prints of these collages.  I was educated in advertising photography. In response to my aversion to commercial bourgeois values, I use the “ad page format” to sabotage the message. I try to use humor to give some relief. The use of “cartoon color” also adds to the use of humor.  My influences for these photo collages are Dadaists, George Grosz, and Raol Hausmann, and Pop artist, Richard Hamilton. Also my pal Patrick Siler. Eight of these photo collages are new this year and twelve are from previous years.”

Matt Chmielarczyk is an artist/photographer living in Colorado Springs, CO. His eclectic body of work runs the gamut of available formats and styles.  Matt’s fascination lies in the sheer multitude of choices he has when approaching his subjects.  He can be known to explore the split instants of street imagery and the singularity of a one-of-a-kind Polaroid image, the cinematic style of the 8×20 inch banquet camera, to the immediacy and undeniable handiness of his iPhone camera. In his most recent work he is addressing the idea that images are images, regardless of the tool with which they are captured, or how they are viewed. This approach has developed into a melding of the technologies involved in analog photography and those of the digital world.  Although Matt’s work is primarily derived photographically, his process occasionally expands to include works in music, sculpture, and video.

Matt studied Illustration (briefly) at The Center for Creative Studies- College of Art and Design in Detroit, Michigan.  He relocated to Alaska in 1989 where he studied the photography and darkroom techniques of his unknowing mentors- Henri Cartier-Bresson, Edward Weston, Garry Winogrand, Paul Strand, Richard Misrach, etc.  In 2000,  Matt relocated to Manitou Springs, CO where he owned and operated The Manitou Center for Photography- a gallery committed to the work of the region’s finest art photographers- until it’s close in 2006. He continues to live and work in Colorado Springs, CO with his wife- Sarah, and their two daughters- Miette and Evalina.

Selected Exhibitions:

2013  “6cm”- Gallery of Contemporary Art, Colorado Springs, CO

2012  “High Tech/Low Art”- An Exhibition of Toy Camera Artists- Business of Art Center, Manitou

Springs, CO

2012  “The 5th Annual Juried Plastic Camera Show”- Rayko Photo Center, San Francisco, CA

2011  “Masks, Costumes, and Halloween” -Lenscratch Gallery

2008  “Men on Maps” -Haven Arts Gallery- Bronx, NY

2007  “Sketch Detail” -The Ryan Chelsea-Clinton Gallery- New York, NY

2006  ”Art of the Word” -Haven Arts Gallery- Bronx, NY

2006  “Reimagining Guernica”- Smokebrush Gallery- Colorado Springs, CO

2006  “Nourishment”  -Haven Arts Gallery- Bronx, NY

2003  “Eclectica”- Manitou Center for Photography- Manitou Springs, CO

2003  “Passion Film Festival”- The Loft- Colorado Springs, CO

2003  “Zoom: An Exhibition of Fine Art Photography” Colorado State University- Pueblo, CO

Curator: Rodney Wood

2002  “Deus Salve Regina I”- Manitou Center for Photography, Manitou Springs, CO

2001  “47hr. 39min. : New Photographs from East of Manitou”- Manitou Center for Photography-

Manitou Springs, CO

2001  “Miscellaneous” Manitou Center for Photography-  Manitou Center for Photography,

Manitou Springs, CO

1997  “Rarefied Light-1997”- Honorable Mention- Anchorage Museum of History and Art-

Anchorage, AK  Juror: Susan Kae Grant

1996  “All Alaska Juried Art Exhibition”- Anchorage Museum of History and Art- Anchorage, AK

1996  “Words and Images”- Kaladi Bros. Gallery Space- Anchorage, AK