By Rosemary Carstens
What happens when one family includes both a landscape artist and an urbanscape painter? You get talent in two genres and some lively dinner-table conversations. Utah painters Kirk Randle and his son James share a deep belief in the importance of hard work and have applied that ethic with gusto to achieve art-world recognition.
The beauty of Kirk’s home ground has always stirred him. As he says, “The Rocky Mountain vistas and southern Utah’s red-rock country are landscapes I never tire of painting.” Kirk feels that the skies in his artworks frequently set the tone for their overall mood.
James, who refers to himself as an “industrial landscape painter,” draws inspiration from a wider geography. Before settling in to become a full-time artist, he worked in construction in Africa and on a fishing boat in southeastern Alaska. In addition, he frequently travels all over the country visiting friends and painting. James has always painted local refineries and train yards, but says, “New York City and San Francisco have become my most common subjects. But I still keep an eye out for old trucks, barns, and such to paint.” His artworks focus on the shapes and perspective of his urban subjects, and manmade elements dominate.
Both artists studied art at the University of Utah. In addition to competitions and shows that have had an impact on their careers, Kirk credits the two opportunities he andJames had to paint at Edward Hopper’s summer studio in Truro, MA, as “definitely life changing.” Hopper had been Kirk’s hero when Kirk was in college, and, when one of Kirk’s collectors introduced him to the beneficiaries of the Hopper estate, Kirk and James were invited to visit and paint. “It was historic, glorious, and humbling,” says Kirk. “It’s a small but beautiful space with huge warehouse windows. The view is right up the Cape and out over big dunes—it’s a patchwork of color, right on the coast. I was awestruck.”
Kirk and James often critique each other’s paintings, sometimes collaborate, and feel comfortable bouncing ideas off of each other, although James remarks that he also likes to do his “own thing.” At the same time, James speaks admiringly about his father’s “amazing” longevity and energy. “Dad is so talented and is always evolving,” he says. “The best thing is he has no ego, no need to compare himself to anyone else.”
Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, CA.
Featured in November 2011.