SOLO EXHIBITION | JACKSON, WY
Altamira Fine Art Jackson is pleased to present a solo exhibition for Utah artist Ben Steele, opening August 17, 2020.
Please join us for the Artist Reception during the August ArtWalk, Thursday, August 20 from 5-8pm. If you would prefer a private tour of the exhibit, please contact the gallery (307) 739-4700.
The title piece of the upcoming show Best Western —a painting of a colored pencil box with John Wayne on the cover and coloring pages of Clint Eastwood from, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, as well as Robert Redford and Paul Newman from, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid—introduces my theme for thinking about the West and Western culture through many of the icons that shape our perception of it. These characters evoke that old, tough, take-no-crap-from-anyone type of personality.
The beauty for me is taking such symbols out of context and redoing them. My paintings hopefully provide a playful counterpoint. What was manly in the past is toxic masculinity now. We evolve as a society and the images evolve in their meaning. That can make a classic image extra fun to play with. In many ways, these characters no longer represent our culture, but reimagined, they still have a lot of staying power.
This painting grew from a desire to highlight the biggest and best stars of Western film lore. Having referenced John Wayne before, I was saving that colorized photo of him from Stagecoach for just the right setting. To me, John Wayne somehow encapsulates the harsh, isolating beauty of the west, both in his manner and presentation. He is the ultimate cowboy.
My first show at Altamira in 2019 included eight or nine pieces. This exhibit features more than a dozen, so it feels like my first big show and got me thinking about Best Western as a diverse building point. There is a delicate balance every time I approach a show; both in pushing the boundaries when it comes to scale, subject matter, and process, yet not completely abandoning the core of what makes me who I am as an artist. Combining both the new and the familiar keeps me excited and hopefully that’s the same for viewers. When you chose to be an artist, there’s always a bit of discovery going on. You don’t have all of the answers. You’re waiting to see what evolves. That mystery keeps me engaged and always curious to explore the next thing.
For more details please contact the gallery, (307) 739-4700, firstname.lastname@example.org