Not So Black & White- Rocky Mountain PBS- Nisha Designs

“Release,” by Daniel Sprick

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — A new exhibit at Englewood’s Bleue Tile Gallery & Art Space is seeking to explore the nuance of such a divided world.

The exhibit, titled “Not So Black & White,” displays the work of 11 artists in several mediums: sculpture, photography, painting, and videography.

Curators say the “limited, high-contrast palette allows for an increased focus on form and spatial relationships intensifying what happens when artists cast aside the color spectrum and focus on the visual power of black, white and everything in between.

Not So Black & White

Courtney Cotton, the gallery’s director, said “things aren’t black and white. There’s a beautiful space in between. We can shift, and we don’t have to have fear.”

She hopes the exhibit leads to “more oneness, more compassion and understanding.”

One of the artists showing work at the exhibit is Daniel Sprick. His painting, which shows a white bird on a dark background, depicts what he calls “death anxiety,” a theme that has been a constant in his career but has taken on greater meaning in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A painting by Allie Gerrish at the Bleue Tile Gallery & Art Space

“Most of all what I want people to receive from all of my work in general is…a sense of well-being,” he explained.

Alli Gerrish, an artist from Boulder, said “I’ve pretty much been painting and sketching my way through my life, my entire life.” Her abstracts paintings are on display at Bleue Tile Gallery & Art Space.

Besides introducing people to new artists, Cotton has some grander goals for the Not So Black and White exhibit, which opens May 14 at 6 p.m. and runs through June 18.

“I’d like to see more oneness, more compassion and understanding,” Cotton explained. “Things aren’t black and white. There’s a beautiful space in between. We can shift, and we don’t have to have fear.”

“I’m hoping COVID helps us come together, relinquish some fear that we have, and break down some old systems—older educational systems, older black and white systems,” she continued. “And that we find beauty in the gray. We find beauty amidst the uncertainty.”

Julio Sandoval is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at


Black-and-White Tile Steps Into the Spotlight- Houzz- Nisha Designs

White triangles dance across a black backdrop, striped squares march over a shower threshold, and Escheresque cubes bring optical allure to kitchen floors. Black and white always make for a dashing combination, and the pair’s sudden graphic appearance in tile is anything but subtle. Black-and-white tile made a big splash at the recent Cersaie design show in Italy and is now wending its way across kitchens and baths everywhere.

The Current Classic

“The way we’re using it now is mod and contemporary, but it also has historical leanings,” says designer Rande Leaman, whose eponymous firm is in the Los Angeles area. “There was a lot of black-and-white tile in the 1920s and 1930s. It’s a trend that’s come back.” Designer Erica Nicole Illions of Kitchen Design Concepts in Dallas agrees: “The look is a little glam, a little Art Deco.” 

Palette Pleaser: Black-and-white tile’s lack of color lets it slot right into present styles. “It has so much punch and energy to it, but it still lives in a neutral world,” Leaman says. She adds warmth with wood cabinetry or matte brass accents. Architect Ann Sellars Lathrop of her namesake firm in Westport, Connecticut, keeps a small bathroom simple, complementing the tile with sparkly white performance fabric on the wall and black stone on the floor.
Making Shapes sing: “I like to use black-and-white tile as the wow factor,” Illions says. She adds details like small hexagonal tiles on a shower floor to subtly extend accent tile elsewhere in the room. Lathrop similarly pulls the tile through the overall design. For the bathroom seen above, she chose “a thin vertical mirror to stay with the vertical expression of the tile,” she says. “The wide single sink was separated from the black cabinet base so more of the wall tile could be seen.”
Pattern Play : Leaman tailors the design to the client’s personality. “If someone’s shy with black and white, I’ll go a little softer with pattern,” she says. “If they’re adventurous, I’ll grab old graphic designs that can still be considered classics.” Illions draws inspiration from the home’s aesthetic. “For a traditional house, I’ll look for tile with curves, maybe even a floral design,” she says. “If it’s a modern home, I’ll do something less intricate.”   
Details Make a Difference: Think about what will go on the tile, Lathrop says. “Make sure no outlets, switches, grilles or other elements interfere with the pattern.” She often omits towel bars, hooks and wall-mounted faucets on tiled surfaces. Illions considers scale too. “If the pattern is too large for the space, you get partial pieces due to cutting,” she says. “For example, in a 12-by-12-inch shower wall niche, I would use a 2-by-2-inch mosaic.”

Communication is the Key: “For a lot of tile installers, this kind of tile ventures into new territory; it’s not just laying subway in a staggered pattern,” Leaman says. “It’s like putting a puzzle together. As designers, it’s up to us to convey that to them, with drawings and job site visits.” Lathrop adds, “Decide clearly where to start the pattern and take it through on paper so there are no surprises at corners, edges or endpoints when the final install occurs.”