Solo Exhibition | Jackson, WY
Altamira Fine Art Jackson is pleased to present a new solo exhibition for Utah artist Ben Steele.
Please join us for the Artist Reception during the ArtWalk, Thursday, July 15 from 5:30-7:30pm.
Ben Steele invites discovery by continuing to evolve his viewpoint on Western imagery. By giving himself room to roam, he finds the analogously unconstrained within the familiar—the fun and the profundity inherent in recasting Western icons as contemporary objects.
Now more than ever, he’s letting himself sit with the ambivalence of Western tropes. He’s watching as coastal urbanites relocate to the American West. He’s observing as new contours of culture and society surrounding those who have called the mountains and high desert home for years if not generations. “The West is still being discovered,” he says. “All of these themes from the 19th and early 20th century remain relevant.”
He reflects on his own move to Helper, once a coal and railroad town in central Utah that became an artist enclave through the arrival of his mentors from the University of Utah. “The town is ever-changing,” he says. “We were part of that change.” So, when he sees resistance to chain stores and hears grumblings about trail traffic, he encourages himself and others to consider: What is our role in and relationship to change? How do we reconcile the conflicting desires to simultaneously share and protect place?
Before becoming an artist, Steele considered advertising as a career, an instinct for graphic communication manifested in his canvases. After choosing fine art, he began painting still lifes, exacting canvases that he ultimately found too confining. Still, his past continues to inform his current compositions as he incorporates pockets of trompe l’oeil and photorealism. Meticulosity meets play. A merging reflective of his family life and art co-exist in his new studio, an old industrial space that he converted into an open living-room workspace. While he paints, his kids study on the couch or play hoops. “For us, there is no work-life balance,” he says. “Instead, everything overflows into one big pile and my wife and I let it flow.” The blend of it all keeps the work interesting for Steele. Like crayon scribbles over Clint Eastwood, the contrasts are what keep him engaged.
For Steele, art offers a way to approach answers to the questions he asks. “Through art, I am recycling old images, reinterpreting them, allowing them to be seen in new ways by ourselves and by new viewers.” He revels in the challenges: of re-presenting Western conceits such as the Sundance Kid as a coloring book page; of reconsidering the artist-stoked allure of Western attractions like the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone as framed by masters like Thomas Moran; of introducing the presence of other artists into the Western zeitgeist by way of, for instance, a silhouetted blue boot customized for Picasso or a red heel with a target for Jasper Johns. In these paintings as in others, Steele is reimagining the Western imaginary.
More images coming soon.
Pre-sales available. Contact the gallery for details, (307) 739-4700, firstname.lastname@example.org.