Ben Steele, "Free Range"

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July 5, 2022


july 5 – 16, 2022

Altamira Fine Art Jackson is pleased to welcome Ben Steele for a solo exhibition opening July 5.


Please join us for the Artist Reception Thursday, July 7th, from 5:30-7:30pm.



Ben Steele samples wildly in his work all while harnessing a Western state of mind. Barreling across wide terrain, he makes references that elicit both smiles and associations. Whether riffing on Cubism, Crayola or Chanel, his conceptual packaging hues close to the rural contours of his home in Helper, Utah—a coal depot reborn as an artist enclave.


By Steele’s hand, what could seem conceptually cacophonous reads instead as Western relevance through his technical virtuosity and conceptual accessibility. A Pointillist portrait of Sitting Bull emerges from a vintage typewriter (cheekily labeled Great Plains Typing). The letters form the heroic visage into a layered critique of how history inks itself. Centering a composition on a monumental keytop requires meticulous brushwork, a technical tightness offset by his loose sourcing of subjects.


“I like bouncing between inspirations. It pushes back against the tightness,” he says. Trained in art history and painting, he brings all elements of his studies and self to bear on his practice. In his view, every artist must ask themselves: “What do I have the energy for and the temperament to do?” His answer: To fence a corral that fits both a Magritte-style Mormon Row and a Cubist cowboy. Forced to reign in his roaming inspiration in the form of an exhibition title, he borrowed a term from the grocery aisle: Free Range.


Steele maps each show with his wife, Melanie. Together they cast lead roles like Sitting Bull and the Lichtenstein barns. Then they ask themselves, “Who or what is missing?” Striving for an eclectic mix, they make sure to hit notes from history (Americana, art) and humor.


The variety keeps Steele—and his audience—engaged. “I’m trying to tell stories in one-take. Tiny little stories that are fun for Melanie and me to imagine,” Steele says. “I do more than just represent the object; I’m using it in a way that is hopefully fun.”


Pre-sales available. Contact the gallery for details, (307) 739-4700,