Artist Studio | Sharron Evans

Sharron Evans

You’re based just outside Fountain Green, UT, two hours south of Salt Lake City and near painters Brad Aldridge and Michael Workman?

Yes, we’re on a ranch in the wilderness. The closest neighbors are 2 miles away.

And your studio’s on an 1800s homesteaded property where you also gentle wild horses and burros? Uh-huh. We’ve got the original cabins, but we built a new home and now my studio’s attached to the home.

When you bought your 200-acre Birch Creek Ranch in 1991 with your husband, after it had been abandoned for years, did it have running water and electricity?

Barely. It had an old hand-dug well.

I hear you built a Mission-style ranch house for your home and studio, based on Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco style from the 1920s, with wooden French doors opening onto a central courtyard?

Yes, based on the work of architects Greene and Greene.

Sharron EvansTell me about your studio—it’s at the end of one of the wings?

Yeah. I like a really contemporary, streamlined feel with the Mission bones.

Planked flooring?

Hardwood flooring that’s oak. All of the exposed beams and door trims come from the old Utah train trestle here, from the 1860s. The studio’s 18 by 24. The whole north wall is windows, plus three skylights.

Are the horses just outside the windows?

Sometimes. I move them around to different pastures. If they’re closer, I get more detailing happening.

You’re known for your graphic, modernist horse paintings, which have an artifact feel yet a modern painting style.

Yes. A lot of the forms are ancient-looking, but the paint treatment is really contemporary—sometimes really spare. The color palette is modernist, it’s bold; the surfaces are really flat, and they mean to be. They’re meant to talk about paint and the horse as an idea, as a post-modernist idea.

How do you create that primal, safe feeling in the horses?

I don’t look at any horses, any photos, or any books when I’m painting. I summon it up from a dream feeling—like the old cave paintings. Sometimes the whole horse doesn’t fit within the plane of the painting. I love gestural painting, and I’m influenced by expressionism.

The horses tend to be mustang-ish.

They speak to me of solidity, of something you can count on.

You’re also on the board of the Intermountain Wild Horse and Burro Mentors.

I’m considered the Utah burro specialist! We just had an adoption of 45 burros here. The burros are extremely intelligent—they think more like humans. I ride both horses and burros—I’ve got seven now.

What do you consider your forte when it comes to painting?

Making a beautiful, interesting surface—texturally and through brush strokes. Some places are bare and some built up. I paint in oil, but I did mixed media for a long time.

How many paintings do you do in a year?

About 30.

At 49 now, what quality have you decided an artist must have, and what quality will only do an artist in?

An artist should be a risk-taker; I recognize that quality immediately in a painting.

Which artist, living or dead, would you most like to trade a piece of art with?

Mark Rothko.

Which artist would you most like an hour of advice from?

Nathan Oliveira.

What’s the range that your work sells for?

From $2,000 to $10,000.

What kind of folks do you gravitate toward, and what kind turn you off?

I like people who forge new ground. What turns me off is those who don’t think of environmental consequences.

When you reach the end of your time in this world, what sentence would accurately sum up your life?

“For those who love the world.” I hope I stand for that.

Evans is represented by Meyer-Munson Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, and Coda Gallery, Park City, UT, New York, NY, and Palm Desert, CA.

Featured in “My World” April 2006