Emerging Artists | Zar, Reilly, Hicks, Rivademar

Blue Vase, Gold Flower by James Zar., painting, southwest art.
Blue Vase, Gold Flower by James Zar.

James Zar

Blue Vase, Gold Flower

James Zar started out studying acting in California but switched to fine art after meeting painter Keith Finch, who became his mentor. Zar, 57, went on to attend the San Francisco Art Institute and work as a commercial illustrator. Today, after almost four decades as an artist, he says his education is ongoing. “An artist can’t just stand still,” he says. “I learn by studying paintings and talking to other artists.”

Although he paints a variety of subject matter, Zar’s current focus is still lifes. He lives in Taos, NM, and is represented by Contemporary Southwest Galleries, Santa Fe, NM; Ann Hughes Fine Art, Dallas, TX; Long Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; Turner Art Gallery, Denver, CO; and Pam Driscol Gallery, Aspen, CO. —MB

Christopher Reilly

Lotus Cross

What gives Christopher Reilly’s encaustic paintings their timeless quality is the subject matter nature. “Nature is a kind of universal, eternal language,” says the San Diego artist. Encaustic is a hot, fast-drying process. Reilly starts with a layer of gypsum and glue on wood, then applies hot beeswax mixed with pigment, fusing each subsequent layer with heat to keep the surface strong. He then carves and paints on the dried surface, often adding gold and silver leaf. Born in 1967, Reilly is a 1990 graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is represented by Gail Severn Gallery, Ketchum, ID;

Lotus Cross by Christopher Reilly., painting, southwest art.
Lotus Cross by Christopher Reilly

R.B. Stevenson Gallery, La Jolla, CA; Park City Gallery, Park City, UT; and Koplin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. —LB

Ron Hicks

The Fitting

One of the most striking aspects of Ron Hicks’ work is his muted palette. The Denver painter rarely uses pure color, preferring instead the tremendous variety and range he finds in gray. He also constantly strives to express more with less. “Painting is like writing a book,” he explains. “There are characters, a plot, and a theme. If you try to say too much, it just won’t work—the character and the plot will never develop.”

Hicks was born in 1965 in Columbus, OH. He studied art at Columbus College of Art and Design and at the Art Students League of Denver. He is represented by David Uhl Gallery, Denver, CO, and Meyer Gallery, Park City, UT. —KB

The Fitting by Ron Hicks, painting, southwest art.
The Fitting by Ron Hicks

Rodolfo Rivademar

Storm Approaching San Pedro

Born in Argentina in 1957, Rodolfo Rivademar was drawn to California by its beauty and by the fact that, as a plein-air painter, he is able to work outside year-round. “I paint nature because it nurtures and invigorates me, and because I feel compelled to preserve the beauty that may soon be gone,” he says.

It is Rivademar’s distinctive palette and personal view of the world around him, however, that make his work unique. “Art is an ongoing quest for self-expression,” he says. “It’s a wonderful challenge.” Rivademar’s work can be seen at California Art Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA, and Taos Gallery in Taos, NM, and Scottsdale, AZ. —DT

Featured in “Artists to Watch” September 1998

Storm Approaching San Pedro by Rodolfo Rivademar, painting, southwest art.
Storm Approaching San Pedro by Rodolfo Rivademar