From moths to modern-day life
This story was featured in the January 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Rick Pas finds his subject matter everywhere, from remote corners of the globe to parking lots in his hometown of Lapeer, MI. In spite of this wide-ranging inspiration, however, his work does feature two distinct themes. Pas is known for capturing what he calls “overlooked” creatures, such as bumblebees, butterflies, moths, and frogs. He depicts his small subjects as if painting them through a magnifying glass, offering the viewer close-up glimpses of intriguing textures, colors, and abstract designs. Pas’ award-winning painting GREY TREE FROG ON LICHEN 2 is a quintessential example of this style. “I am interested in surface textures and creating paintings that portray them in realistic detail,” he says. “Hopefully a viewer will feel [as if] they can run a hand over feathers or moss, or feel as if they can grasp an object in the painting.”
The second theme that weaves its way through Pas’ thoughtful body of work is that of humans interacting with the natural world in the 21st century. For example, in MARA EYE CONTACT, a woman stares out a car window at zebras and lions. But the young boy in the passenger seat is totally oblivious to the exotic animals that surround him, transfixed as he is by the electronic device he holds in his hands. In another painting, birds fly in front of a car stuck in traffic, but the young driver is too busy texting to notice. “Modern life often involves technology,” Pas says. “Occasionally people get involved with their technology and miss what’s happening around them. Some people see humor; some see danger in my work. I set the scene and let viewers interpret it.”
Pas’ paintings are currently on view in a show titled Environmental Impact at the Stauth Memorial Museum in Montezuma, KS. The traveling exhibition features works by leading contemporary artists who focus on global and local environmental issues, with the goal of heightening public awareness. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Environmental Impact, Stauth Memorial Museum, Montezuma, KS, through January 17.
Environmental Impact, Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art, Moraga, CA, February 6-April 3.
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