Maxwell Alexander Gallery brings together two exceptional artists for its October exhibition. Titled “Cowboys & Indians,” the two-man show features new cowboy works by Mark Maggiori and Native American themed paintings by Brett James Smith.
While well-known for his classic sporting scenes, Smith says his art has been evolving. About 20 years ago on a back country fly-fishing trip to Montana and Idaho he discovered a new and historically interesting subject to explore with his paintings: the West.
“At first my interest was in depicting my usual cast of sportsmen characters in this new environment,” explains Smith. “The creative possibilities seem inexhaustible.”
As he moved throughout the progression of his career, the need for a diversion from his usual repertoire of subjects became overwhelming.
As he remembers, “I was burnt out of the formula paintings. Although lucrative, I needed a creative place to go where there were no rules in designing pictures.”
Smith continues, “I feel it is unimportant in my designs to be affiliated with any particular group. Among the multitude of tribes of native people in North America, the customs, beliefs and religions varied from tribe to tribe. They differed as much as they were the same…their art and designs were unique only to individual. Inspiration was born from the mystic haze of dreams and these dreams would turn to nightmares as their fate played out. From the destruction of their culture rose the development and ownership of their land, a concept that was unimaginable to a people who had never seen a road or fence.
Within this context lies the inspiration of these new paintings for the show. Smith will have between six to nine works in Cowboys & Indians, including Bison Leather and Skull Pit.
As he explains, “There is great freedom in making pictures that are not bound by reality or a planned progression in a design. Starting with a simple idea I work out a simple composition around it, which will revolve the colors and shapes that are fluid and unplanned. My attempt, first and foremost, is to create pictures, and imagery that are unlike anything that has come before. I will be the first to admit that some attempts at this are more successful than others.”
Nostalgia filled cowboys grace the recent canvases of Arizona based artist Maggiori. He will have around 10 new paintings for the show ranging in size from 16×20 inches to 30 by 40 inches.
“I love to paint and dream about the old times,” explains Maggiori. “Cowboys always represented, for me, a time when America was still a promise land…a huge dream for whoever wanted it, before corporations and plastic.”
He continues, “I am trying to paint pieces that will tell a story itself and bring to the viewer certain nostalgia, a moment to remember what it felt to be riding a horse on a wide-open range. I am so fascinated by the era 1860 to 1910 in Europe and in America. Those were some golden ages.”
Maggiori is also fascinated with older leather, fabric and textures, and incorporates them into his works. “That’s why I am not painting modern cowboys…they are usually wearing too much bling.” Jokes Maggiori.
Also in the new batch of paintings will be nocturne paintings. He says, “I think night and moonshine bring such a mysterious and enigmatic element to my paintings. It is really hard to paint because sometimes you can get lost in the darkness of the colors…but the reward of the rendering is magic.”