Rick Stoner | Contemplative Compositions

By Devon Jackson

Rick Stoner’s quiet still lifes invite the viewer to slow down and appreciate the simplicity.

IMAGINE MARK ROTHKO PAINTING STILL LIFES of watermelons, red onions, peeled oranges, or papayas, and you have a pretty good idea of the deeply contemplative work being done by Rick Stoner. Not at all abstract and in no way gloomy, Stoner’s smallish oil paintings (often no bigger than a computer screen) don’t impose a mood on the viewer the way Rothko’s works sometimes do; rather, the similarity is in the way they invite one to slow down—slow way down—and appreciate how soothing something as simple as, say, a piece of fruit and an old Navajo blanket can be. “There’s a calmness in the still lifes,” says Stoner from his home in Longmont, CO. “They’re not in-your-face sort of stuff. There’s a sense of quiet to them.”

It’s a quiescence that recalls the reserved beauty of the Four Corners area of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah where Stoner grew up. Although he was born in Great Bend, KS, in 1951, Stoner has little recollection of that place or time. When he was 3, his father, who worked for Philips Petroleum, moved the family (which eventually grew to five boys) to northern New Mexico, where they lived on a sort of camp near the Jicarilla Apache reservation. Then they moved again, to Farmington, NM, and finally further north to Cortez, CO, where Stoner pretty much grew up. “The Four Corners area is where my heart and soul are,” says Stoner, who goes back as often as he can to visit old friends, to paint, and to recharge.

Featured in February 2007

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