Opening May 14, Maxwell Alexander Gallery in Culver City, California, will host the exhibition Looking Forward featuring around a dozen works by artists Glenn Dean, G. Russell Case, Tim Solliday, and Billy Schenck. “This group, among a handful of other artists in American art, are really pushing the contemporary aspects and leading Western art into a new direction,” says Beau Alexander, director of the gallery. “Maxwell Alexander Gallery is extremely focused on looking forward and putting shows together with artists whose work is the new breed of fine art.”
While on a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, Case came across his inspiration, and gathered references, for the painting Riders at Long Mesa. “Driving the road from Flagstaff [Arizona] to Santa Fe, one crosses some wonderful desert mesa country. The skies were loaded with clouds and the light, being late afternoon, was perfect for atmosphere and contrast,” Case describes. “This condition is among my favorite subjects, containing sharp display of the complements, blue of the sky with the terra- cotta mesas and ground.”
In a contrast, Schenck’s painting Big Sky Country has a lack of the landscape’s floor and focuses prominently on the horse and rider positioned against a billowing Western sky. The piece came about when Schenck saw a newspaper photograph of a horse with rider leaping up into an exaggerated position—a sight Schenck, who has a background as a rider, says he’s never seen before.
“I used to do rodeo paintings with the specific rodeo arenas with the crows nest in the background, but I haven’t done that since the late ’80s, early ’90s,” Schenck says. “Now, setting a figure like that in motion in midair makes it more dramatic and more surreal, with no reference to ground or anything at all other than the sky.”
Solliday’s work Hunter’s Moon developed into its final composition as the artist painted. Beginning the work, Solliday knew he wanted to paint a Northern-based scene of an Indian warrior heading back to camp after a hunt as viewed through beech trees. “I started to do it just like that, in a midday setting. Then, I started messing around with the composition and liked the moon behind his head…It had a real spiritual kind of feeling with the moon rising up behind him at that hour,” Solliday says. “I did a small study…and roughed it out. To see those darker colors with that high-key moon is what really made me want to do the picture.”
Another work focusing on twilight, or dusk, in the show is Dean’s Sunset Trail. The piece depicts two riders, one sitting atop his horse and the other leading him by his reins, as they walk through the wide-open, and seemingly never-ending, desert as the sun begins to set.
Looking Forward will be on view at Maxwell Alexander Gallery through June 11.