Our thoughts on art and inspiration


September 19, 2018

She doesn’t believe in plans or premeditation, ergo the tanager cameo. Spontaneity prevails, bucking all expectations. Ever impatient, she makes what she sees, but just as she refuses to conform, so too do her paintings. Some compositions force her to get out of her own way, like a pair of sandhill cranes with whom she struggled for weeks. “I wasn’t making it OK,” she says, “until finally I just let it be.” The result writhes with pitch, shadow and light resolved in mystery. “I don’t believe that we control our thoughts. I believe that things come to us as we need them.”


As Yellowstone did, so many summers ago. In Jackson for the Art Fair, some visitors to her booth asked if she’d explored the first national park. Not since she was a toddler. So she changed her plans and spent two weeks in the caldera, phoning home periodically to extend her stay. “I just couldn’t leave,” she says. “I do that. I get into my own little world.”


Total immersion remains her modus operandi. Most recently, she’s been moved by ravens, regular visitors in Sun Valley, wise and wordy creatures she respects as foils for her long stretches of silence. Whether in counterpoint or composition, her emotions emanate from her paintings—too much so at times for some people. Raw, close, real: such proximity to personality is what inspires Roberson. As encountered in humans as well: A JH couple, Altamira collectors turned friends, commissioned her to create a large painting for their entryway. Giving her full license, they wondered if she might consider incorporating maps into her paintings. Intrigued, she spent months researching cartography, delving deep into the New York Public Library and the David Rumsey Map Collection. Finally, she homed in on 18th century maps of North America and the concept of paintings creatures atop the contours of their natural habitats. She likes the age inherent in the maps—the lines of experience, the tonality of time, the tension between territory and terrain. From those inflection points, she paints. “I’m overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings and inspiration,” she says. “I’m not the author of it, I just go do it.”


Look Deep into Nature, our exhibition of new work by Mary Roberson, runs from September 24 to October 6 at Altamira Fine Art in Jackson, with a reception held from 5:30 to 7:30pm on September 27. For more information on the exhibit, please contact Altamira Fine Art by email (connect@AltamiraArt.com) or phone (307-739-4700). 

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