Three artists of the American West, each with his own take and unique philosophy, will show their latest work in an exhibition at Maxwell Alexander Gallery in Los Angeles, March 9 through 30.
Howard Post was raised on a ranch in Arizona, became a cowboy, competed in rodeos, received his MFA and worked as a commercial artist before dedicating his life to portraying ranch life in his oil and pastel paintings.
Gary Ernest Smith grew up on a cattle ranch and farm in rural Oregon where “the demands of farm life taught me the values of discipline and self-reliance.” After receiving his MFA he painted murals and later turned to studio painting of rural scenes inspired by the work of Edward Hopper and Maynard Dixon.
Bryan Haynes grew up among the rolling hills of Missouri and later received his degree in commercial design. He returned to Missouri, appreciating its character in a new way and with a new appreciation for the way regionalists like Thomas hart Benton responded to it. He considers his work a continuation of the regionalist tradition.
In his Sledge Crew, Haynes depicts a once-common occurrence in rural America— the circus coming to town in a time between the wars. The graceful rope walker, exotic animals and clown parading in front of the giant tent are brightly lit in celebration of the festive experience. In the foreground, forming a shadowed frame are the behind-the-scenes workers, driving a spoke into the ground. Haynes’ sinuous line and soft palette recall those of the regionalists who preceded him.
Smith often reduces a scene to its elements with a strong emphasis on design. His portraits are often isolated against a plain ground, focusing on the character of the individual. In Sitting Bull, the Lakota Sioux leader who united his people to defend their land is depicted in profile with a single eagle feather in his hair. He stands in front of a painted buffalo hide showing scenes from Native versus government conflicts.
Post paints the nearly timeless life of the cowboy and rancher. Although there have been changes in their lives, the hard work continues. It includes constant maintenance of the ranch buildings and fences. Known for his paintings from a bird’s-eye view, in Vintage Pens, he takes an uncharacteristic perspective from below the shed and pens on the hill. The high, hot sun casts short shadows illustrating one of the many extremes the pens have endured over time, repaired and rebuilt over and again by the ranch hands.