Vistas of the canyon
Nothing defines the freedom and open spaces of the West more than the Grand Canyon. It’s the icon of icons, the natural force that has inspired Western artists beginning famously with Thomas Moran. Maxwell Alexander Gallery in Los Angeles has put together a show of contemporary interpretations of the canyon from leading Western artists such as Mark Maggiori, Bryan Haynes, Brett Allen Johnson, David Grossmann, Ray Roberts, and G. Russell Case.
Grossmann is known for his ethereal and abstracted landscape paintings. In his Grand Canyon piece, titled Canyon Heights, he is able to show the vastness of the canyon as well as its signature vistas just through implied detail.
“Standing on the canyon rim gives me the feeling that I am flying and falling at the same time,” says Grossmann. “When I look far across to the other side, first I notice the flat stillness of the horizon line. Then, as I look father and father down the layers of earth, I watch as the
lines leave their stillness and become more and more curving, gracefully turbulent, until at last I finally glimpse the twisting green river far below.”
Maggiori’s piece Secret Talk at Sunset shows two riders on horseback sharing a moment while the canyon spreads out behind them. It’s a beautiful piece and contrasts the intimacy of the two riders with the overwhelming greatness of the landscape.
“There is no place like that on earth,” says Maggiori. “The Grand Canyon is mystical, mighty and majestic. Observing the light changing from sunrise to sunset is such an enlightening experience. It makes you forget about everything else and imagine that you are all alone and in total bliss.”
Another interesting piece is Haynes’ Havasupai-Grand Canyon. In it a lone Native American figure runs across the foreground, his body lightly imprinted with traditional designs mixed across parts of the canyon.
“It depicts that vast depth of the Grand Canyon while simultaneously suggesting the flatness and beautiful design of a Navajo weaving,” says Haynes. “The painting pays homage to the history of the Native Americans, the Havasupai who have lived in the Canyon for more than one thousand years, with a
figure integral to the landscape: he looks out at us—directly at the viewer. So, I wonder what emotions might be elicited from people who view the painting.”