A successful new show at the Coburn Gallery featuring the work of artist Richard Mello opened on Sept. 12. The exhibit was curated by CC students Claire Lukeman and Grace Gahagan and opened to an impressive turnout of over 100 people.
Mello suffers from Parkinson’s disease and this show held much meaning for Mello and his wife Nancy since it may be Mello’s last. The idea for the exhibit, called Tension and Transformation, began with the Mellos donating 70 prints to the I.D.E.A. space. Lukeman and Gahagan, senior art history majors and interns at the space, worked closely with Mr. and Mrs. Mello, sorting through old prints and reassuring them of the plans for the exhibit throughout the summer. The hard work has paid off; Mello’s exhibit captures the essence of his career and highlights new and unique pieces of his collection.
Mello was born in New England, where he began his career. After spending time traveling and living abroad for many years, most of the time in Italy, the Mellos settled in Colorado Springs in 1991. As a teacher of the arts, Richard has always valued art education; as a result, he has a close connection with Colorado College and its art department.
Mello has been a friend and inspiration to members of the CC art department. “[Mello] works with what’s around him. His subject matter can be mythology, theatre, even laundry,” said Jean Gumpper, a visiting art professor “He’s a wonderful example of being an artist in your own world.”
This exhibit showcases work that spans Mello’s career. The goal, according to organizers, was to get a historical perspective on the artist.
“There are so many things to look at in [Mello’s] work,” said Gumpper. “The massive quantity of his work is something that students may not get out of this specific exhibition, but one could create many exhibitions with different thematic content from his body of work.” She added, “You get a sense of his life as an artist when you look at his work and how he keeps returning to different themes throughout his mature career.”
The show captures Mello’s achievements as a printmaker and painter, and highlights themes of metamorphosis and binaries.
While looking through Tension and Transformation, one may not realize the context of the exhibit, but behind the scenes, this show has been an emotional experience.
“What I realized after curating this show is that there may be more exhibits and experiences for me like this in the future, but none will ever have the same importance as this one” said Claire Lukeman, on the difficult task of curating an exhibit so meaningful and personal to an artist in his last years.
“Dick said that he could see various prints in new ways, ways he’d never thought about and he is very grateful,” said Nancy Mello about the show.