St. George, UT
St. George Museum of Art, January 16-May 28
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.
On January 16, the St. George Museum of Art unveils a solo exhibition of 35 works by California artist Erin Hanson entitled Painted Parks, which is part of a yearlong series of juried art shows celebrating the National Park Service Centennial. The show opens with a private artist’s reception for museum members and invited patrons on Friday, January 15, and then to the general public on Saturday. Hanson is present for events on both days.
For her first solo show at a museum, Hanson brings works featuring scenes from national parks and monuments around the West, including Zion, Bryce, Glacier, Cedar Breaks, Canyon de Chelly, and Monument Valley, all employing her signature contemporary impasto and brilliant color. Having once painted plein-air, the artist says she now paints almost exclusively in the studio, spending her outdoor time capturing the fleeting moments of light with her camera instead of her brush. “My style looks like plein air,” Hanson says, “because I work very quickly, wet on wet.”
Viewers who are familiar with her work will notice new artistic directions in these paintings. “The landscape is pushed to the background, and the focus is on the trees and the changing colors of the sky seen through the branches,” Hanson says. While she continues to work with a limited palette of just four or five colors, mixing all of her values and hues for a painting from those colors, she has expanded the number of colors she chooses from for any given palette. “The first four years that I painted in this style, I used the same four colors the whole time,” she says. “Recently, I have been experimenting with a lot more colors—still on a limited palette. I have also been painting larger works. One [painting] is 5 feet tall. A lot are in the 30 by 40 range.”
As part of her commitment to the National Parks Service and its importance, Hanson is donating a percentage of proceeds from the works sold to the organization.
The museum became familiar with Hanson’s work when it hosted an exhibition of works from the Ken Ratner Collection in May 2015. “Ken collects her work and introduced us to her,” says museum manager and curator Deborah Reeder. “As she often focuses on the national parks and landscape, her vibrantly alive work seems perfect for our show focusing on the National Park Centennial.” —Laura Rintala
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