“The subject of my works is paint, the motif is the image, the illusions, the beauty of landscape. I never want to forget that what I am looking at is paint on canvas.” ~ Louisa McElwain
Altamira Fine Art opens its summer arts season with Louisa McElwain’s “A Painters Dream,” an exhibition of 19 new paintings by the renowned landscapist. The show runs May 23rd – June 5th, 2012; an artist’s reception takes place Friday, May 25th, 2012.
McElwain, a New Mexico native, describes herself as an abstract artist. This new show advances that claim; and it’s a correct claim. But, as I write this, and as I view her new canvases, I can’t help but think, “Damn, these are radically charged, super-painted works! And they remind me of Vincent Van Gogh’s foaming, tumultuous and emotive paintings.” One of my favorite reference books describes abstract painting as “having artistic content that depends on intrinsic form rather than on pictorial representation.” McElwain is representing these landscapes; we can see them. But a vortex—must be that New Mexico magic—of energy churns up place, color and light in each of her works. In “Extraterrestrial,” pictured above, a supernatural form volcanically takes off from the earth–it’s in the sky, becoming the sky.
In fact, McElwain says she is involved with ‘extreme painting.’
“I often feel energy, like electricity, surging upward from the ground, through my knees, through my arms and right on to the canvas,” says she. Viewing her earlier works, I was searching for a way to really connect to her style. When I view paintings rendered with palette knives, I often can’t get past thinking “palette knife!” Now, tool and finished work are beautifully merged. Good and important things have changed in these landscapes. McElwain’s colors have powered up. They make more sense–they match the mystery and ecstasy of the places she paints, as well as her own emotions for those places.
Says McElwain, “The palette knife doesn’t allow me to articulate things in a drawing way, but it does have an additional dimension of expressing the sensuous quality of paint. It expresses more of the physicality of the material than I’m likely to achieve with a brush.” www.altamiraart.com
I hear over 100 young peeps attended NMWA’s recent “Mix’d Media,” geared to the 25-ish arts set. I believe writer/curator Meg Daly’s new series of discussions about art–an offshoot of her new website “Culture Front,” will be just as popular. And I think the high interest in these and other youth-initiated arts venues signal the next generation of arts leaders in Jackson. And they are teaching themselves to become leaders; they are taking the reins. Just doing it. They’ve got their own brand of protocol—they’re brainstorming and executing.
“The mission behind Culture Front is to facilitate discussions about contemporary visual art in our community,” Daly says. “From the outset, I wanted to produce live discussion opportunities which will inspire spontaneous insights and a group dialogue that the blog can’t duplicate. I’ve read about similar ‘bar-room’ education popping up in other cities like New York and Portland, and I thought it would work well here.”
Culture Front launches its cocktail hour discussion series on Thursday, May 31, 2012. The place is The Rose, the time is 5:30-7:00 pm, and local artists Abbie Miller and Mike Tierney will lead a talk on “Art & Risk.” Miller will talk about “comfort and risk within an ongoing art career.” Miller creates sculptural forms through man-made textiles and clothing and explores the dynamic intersection between form, texture, surface, sculpture and the human body. Tierney will discuss the “influence of athletic risk-taking on making art.” Tierney paints skis for Igneous Skis, and creates fine art on canvas and other media, working with spray paint and utilizing many different techniques.
Daly has a vision. “I want to provide opportunities for people to learn more about the creative process and discover new ways of looking at art,” she says.
The Gallery Association of Jackson Hole will hold an all-day Art Walk on Thursday, May 24—10:00 am to 8:00 pm. The goal is to familiarize guide services and their clients with the galleries (hey, this blog does that!); a great idea. Kind of like an art tour…….each participating gallery will hold a drawing for $50 Chamber Bucks gift certificate, and at least 20 certificates can be won. Confirmed participating galleries are: Altamira Fine Art, Astoria Fine Art, Cayuse Western Americana, Horizon Fine Art, Legacy Gallery, Mangelsen-Images of Nature, Mountain Trails, National Museum of Wildlife Art, Rare, Shadow Mountain, Tayloe Piggott, Trailside, Trio Fine Art, Vertical Peaks, West Lives On Contemporary & Traditional galleries, Wilcox on the Town Square & North Broadway, Wild By Nature, Wild Hands and Wyoming Gallery.