By Bonnie Gangelhoff
Michael Ome Untiedt is fond of saying he paints the world with a westerner’s eye. Part of the reason for this, Untiedt explains, is that he grew up on an eastern Colorado farm. It seems that no matter where he travels—whether it’s to County Cork in Ireland or to the Texas Panhandle—he is drawn to the rural, quieter side of life that exists beyond the big cities.
For example, in STILLE NACHT, a painting in this year’s Governor’s show, he depicts an abandoned adobe church along Colorado’s Purgatoire River. The piece demonstrates not only his affection for out-of-the-way places but also his fascination with nocturnes. “You can treat night scenes in a more abstract manner because you don’t really see clearly in the moonlight,” Untiedt says. “Deep down, I guess, I’m an abstract painter.”
To Untiedt, subject matter such as old churches and cowboys are not just nostalgic images of a bygone era. They are powerful symbols and icons that play a major role in his works. “I like things like cowboys, churches, graveyards, old buildings, fences, and gates,” he says. “I rarely paint just a landscape, because I want something more than just a beautiful scene. I want the painting, through the use of symbols and icons, to represent something more than the image.”
Along with the Purgatoire River area, another favorite location to paint is among the cool, rolling grasslands and gigantic cliffs known as the Pawnee Buttes, a prominent landmark in northeastern Colorado. And while some landscape painters say conveying beauty in their works is of primary importance, Untiedt says his goal is to make a visual statement that requires people to think about their humanity. He is represented by Mary Williams Fine Arts, Boulder, CO; Evergreen Fine Art, Evergreen, CO; Whistle Pik Galleries, Fredericksburg, TX; Sanders Galleries, Tucson, AZ; and Dana Gallery, Missoula, MT; www.michaelomeuntiedt.com.
Featured in April 2012.