Southwest Art Previews Cumulus Show

Los Angeles, CA

Maxwell Alexander Gallery, March 10-31

Dennis Ziemienski, Summer Thunderhead, Monument Valley, oil, 20 x 30.

Dennis Ziemienski, Summer Thunderhead, Monument Valley, oil, 20 x 30.

We probably take them for granted more often than we should. This month, however, clouds receive a well-deserved tribute at Maxwell Alexander Gallery, where 12 leading western artists portray these billowing beauties of the sky in more than a dozen new paintings of the American West. Fittingly titled Cumulus, the exhibition opens on Saturday, March 10.


Devotees of historic western art might presume the show is a commemorative nod to early western landscape painters like Maynard Dixon (1875-1946), who frequently depicted massive, showstopping cloudscapes over low-lying horizons. But gallery owner Beau Alexander is quick to note that, while this group of contemporary painters may be influenced by such artists, it’s not the focus of the exhibition. “We’re really trying to look forward,” he says. “These artists are cutting their own path and doing something a little different.”

Among those portraying clouds in a new light are Eric Bowman, Scott Burdick, Phil Epp, Danny Galieote, and Michael Klein. The artists were invited to interpret the theme in any way—and any size—they saw fit, notes Alexander. The result is a diverse collection of cloud-infused scenes that range in tenor from whimsical to contemplative.

Bowman, a western native, has given the theme plenty of thought himself. “Clouds are such enigmatic elements in our landscape’s skies, constantly moving and shape-shifting, especially here in the West where they’ve helped define wide-open spaces like Montana’s Big Sky Country,” he says.

Clouds typically play a “backup role” in his landscape paintings, says the Oregon artist, but in his major work for the show, titled "Levels and Degrees" they take center stage. “I wanted to create some cloud iconography using various levels of depth, large-mass shapes, and temperature shifts to convey a larger-than-life impact,” he explains. Bowman strategically set his cloudscape over southern Utah’s ancient bluffs and canyons, both to support the composition’s vertical design and to create a “large-scale, heroic feel,” he says. “As a design feature, clouds can theoretically be shaped into any configuration imaginable, and in this case, hopefully they inspire our imagination about how large and legendary the West really is.”

Landscape artist Phil Epp has been painting clouds for years, and like Bowman, he thrills in their potentially endless configurations. In his cloud-dominant painting "Hilltop Trio", Epp portrays a triad of horses in the Kansas hills near his home. They are dwarfed, however, by a cobalt-blue sky with plump, unfurling clouds that fill nearly 80 percent of the picture plane. “In my imagery, it’s basically earth and sky, and clouds become the characters of the scene,” says Epp. “I don’t intend for them to be realistic. I make an effort to show vastness, space, and emptiness. Out West, you’ve got the ground ahead of you and the sky above you, and that’s about as basic and primal as it gets.”

If anyone can inspire us to glance skyward with a deeper appreciation for clouds, surely this group of artists can. “We all know what clouds look like,” notes Alexander, “but it’s not until master artists share their vision that our own vision opens up.” —Kim Agricola

To view the Cumulus exhibition, click here.


Southwest Art Previews Mark Maggiori Show

Show Preview | Mark Maggiori

By: Southwest Art | November 15, 2017


Mark Maggiori, In Altitude, oil, 24 x 30.

Mark Maggiori, In Altitude, oil, 24 x 30.

by Laura Rintala

A cowboy peers down at the rocky trail as his horse picks its way through the loose rock and sagebrush, while behind them the ground falls away to distant snowcapped peaks against a blue sky. In another scene—a nocturne—another cowboy shifts his weight in the saddle and gives his horse rein to make its way down a steep, shrubby incline, the full moon highlighting distant canyon walls. These two paintings, and seven more canvases that examine the often solitary beauty of cowboy life, are on view this month in Mark Maggiori’s solo show entitled Lonesome Souls. It opens at Maxwell Alexander Gallery on Saturday, December 9, with an artist’s reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“When I started work for the show, I was going up to Wyoming [and photographing] cowboys,” Maggiori explains. “For two or three days we were on the Continental Divide. It was very inspiring for me visually. When I came back, I wanted to paint what I had just experienced.” After working through his photos and making sketches, the artist realized a recurring theme: “I ended up painting mostly lonesome cowboys,” he says. “My feeling is that the cowboy life is very lonesome. It’s a feeling of being far from world reality and having symbiosis with nature.” And the painter, alone in his studio day after day, recognized the parallel to his own work. “There’s the beauty of [that solitude] as well as the hard part,” he says.

Lonesome Souls is Maggiori’s second solo show at the gallery and, notes gallery director Beau Alexander, his second solo show ever. “In this show we’re seeing Mark’s style develop. His ability as an artist and his voice as an artist has really matured since his first show in 2015. This show is cohesive and focused on the lonesome cowboy on the range in different scenarios.”

Maggiori pays particular attention to making his images timeless. “I don’t want to mark [a time period] through [the tack or] gear—when you’re a specialist you know it is [contemporary]. But I want to stay on the iconic side of the West,” he says. “That is what brought me to paint cowboys. That is what I have been fascinated with.”

And those cowboys are depicted as larger than life. “I cheat scale. My cowboys are 20 times bigger than they are supposed to be,” he says. And while there is limited human interaction depicted, Maggiori explores other relationships. “We don’t say enough about how important the horse is to that person being in that place and having that experience,” he says.

“The solo show is such a special event for collectors,” Alexander says. “In group shows you see one or two paintings by an artist, maybe three. But you can’t know an artist without seeing them in a solo exhibition, their small works, large works. Mark’s been working on this show for a long time, and we’re excited to be able to present it to the public.”

For more work by Mark Maggiori, click here.