LIVING IN THE NORTHEAST - PAINTING THE SOUTHWEST
...reared out West yet exhibiting in the Northeast - which should one paint?
Two modernist painters who did so come to mind.
At least two who fell in love with New Mexico's expansive western skies and monumental mountain vistas...not to be found anywhere else in the USA...yet tried to paint those memories while residing and exhibiting elsewhere. As if those elusive mountain memories needed to be put down on canvas regardless of the artists' present surroundings.
Why would one feel compelled to make pigment records of local scenes while ignoring the longed for non regionals?
Could it be due to the judging and jurying process, where certain regional scenes and style... as in paaaaainterly... are preferred? It does not seem to matter if the oil or acrylic painting results from a screen projected enlarged filled in traced photo - often touted as 'en plein air'...as long as it's paaaaainterly...no matter how messy... with featureless people...while having strong legs to help hang the exhibit will certainly garner a ribbon every single time. Cripples need not bother...
On the one hand making art available to tourists who want to take home a bit of the local memories by local artists will likely lead to more sales. After all the artist needs to buy supplies and the gallery needs to pay the rent. Business is business and everyone can understand that.
On the other hand is it so wrong to shake things up a bit? Even in New England there are hushed homes that dare to have on their walls...horrors...modern works! There are those who feel that a more modern approach to art... facilitates hanging works from home to home and region to region when the collectors move across country...
Regretfully, not having visted Santa Fe in many years, this is second hand information...it is said that some galleries there now offer more than the local Santa Fe scenes.
Two modernists who painted the west while residing at least 2500 miles away and the other that far plus an ocean away...were Georgia O'Keeffe and Marsden Hartley respectively.
They were both associated with Alfred Stieglitz...she as his wife and Hartley... one of many being discovered by and given a one man show at Club 291. Hartley hailed from Maine then spent the years between 1912 and 1916 in Europe returning to America in 1916...finally spending 1918 - 1920 in New Mexico. Just long enough to get those mountains rattling around in his brain. It was when he returned to Europe the second time in 1921 that he began to attempt to paint his New Mexico recollections...
...often leaving him frustrated at the futility.
Locals have tried, the poor dears...bestowing ribbons on each other...still unable to grasp the grandeur...
O'Keeffe's first exposure to those vast western skies began when she took a teaching job in northwestern Texas in the years prior to WW I. She returned to New York, met and married Stieglitz and years later when that gave her marital claustrophobia...off she went to Taos NM as a guest of heiress Mabel Dodge Luhan who also welcomed D H Lawrence to her Taos Salon. O'Keeffe's western works were shown by Stieglitz in New York City.
Point is...those mentioned here have been compelled to paint and exhibit western works while living east and across the pond...
The present: Needless to say...this painter on occasion enters Western themed oils above... knowing full well that they will stick out like a ponderosa pine in a strawberry patch! That...not able to help at the show...and the disregard for the locally favored paaaaaaainterly approach...will win no ribbons!
Aaahhh...but one must go where the heart beckons....no matter the costs...and if I can't free hand sketch it on my canvas...what's the point?
All images design concept text content are original and solely owned by Mimi Dee and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. November 13, 2015