When Art reaches out and Grabs you

September 20th, 2011

“Being Chacoan” Serigraph, Doug West

“What is life?
It is the flash of a firefly
in the night.

It is the breath of a buffalo
in the wintertime.

It is the little shadow
which runs across the grass

and loses itself in the sunset.
–Crowfoot, Blackfoot warrior & orator

There are moments when art just reaches out and grabs you for whatever reason. When it touches your heart, your spirit in such a way that you are compelled to respond in some way, whether that response might be laughter, joy or quiet contemplation.

The works of Doug West have had that effect on me for many years. Last Friday I was lucky enough to attend an opening of new oil paintings by Doug at Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe. Not only was the work superb, but I had a great opportunity to talk with Doug after the crowds had abated.

Fajada Butte, Chaco Canyon National Monument, New Mexico where we just camped for three days in fierce sunlight, rainbows and rain.

The oil paintings are very different from, and yet similar to the serigraphs for which the artist was known for many years. His subject matter has not changed: vast landscapes juxtaposed with delicate details. The flattened color breakdowns that have made his serigraphs both exquisite and successful are still discernable. There is new modulation in the color,  yet the analysis of the landscape’s subtleties is still flattened into complex textures and color areas of various sizes. It’s quite interesting to see his progression into a more luscious painterly style.

Doug West captures the moment Crowfoot speaks of… the breath of the buffalo, the flash of the firefly. He paints the living essence of the landscape.

And he does so while portraying particular landscapes that resonate with me… his portrayal of Fajada Butte at Chaco Canyon where I just spent three days hiking and camping with a group of students while learning about the mysteries of Ancestral Puebloan peoples.

First Breath, oil on canvas, 37″ x 37″ Doug West

And vistas of Carson, NM, and the Rio Grande Gorge, where I lived long ago. The details of these landscapes are etched into my mind’s eye and heart.

Doug recreates them exquisitely.

They reach out and grab my heart.

Go see the show at the Blue Rain Gallery!

2 Responses to “When Art reaches out and Grabs you”

  1. Candy Barr says:

    Thanks for relating the joy of Doug West’s beautiful SW paintings~!

  2. lizamyers says:

    I just heard that Doug West is doing a stamp! Can’t wait to see it!