Show Preview | Louisa McElwain

Santa Fe, NM
Evoke Contemporary, August 18-September 23

Louisa McElwain, Old Glory, oil, 54 x 72.

Louisa McElwain, Old Glory, oil, 54 x 72.

This story was featured in the August 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  August 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Every August since it opened its doors in 2009, Evoke Contemporary would host a solo show for abstract western landscape painter Louisa McElwain, who passed away in 2013. “When August rolls around, we still think of it as her month,” says gallery owner Kathrine Erickson. In a poignant commemoration of the artist, Evoke unveils a special collection of her works on Friday, August 18, with a reception at 5 p.m. The show, titled Oil of Joy, features newly released paintings from McElwain’s estate and pieces just recently consigned to the gallery.

“Oil of Joy was the title Louisa repeatedly used for her exhibitions,” says Erickson. “It represented her happiest times, which were spent in nature painting.” McElwain, an East Coast native, spent the last 28 years of her life in New Mexico. She painted en plein air throughout the state, often working from an improvised studio on the tailgate of her pickup truck. Using masonry trowels and palette knives, the artist typically completed her paintings in less than four hours to capture what she called the “evanescent events” in nature.

“Louisa would duct-tape her trowels to branches and sticks to inhibit herself from becoming focused on making everything excessively accurate,” says Erickson. “She was working to capture a personal feeling she was experiencing in nature.” As McElwain worked, even insects and bits of dirt were welcome additions to the thick impasto paint on her canvases. “I see these as valuable contributions to the work,” she once wrote. “Sometimes I put little stones, bones, or pieces of glass and plants into the paint, in the same spirit as the Navajo weaver who incorporates things into her blanket to bless those who will receive it, and as a way of acknowledging the temporality of things.”

McElwain’s love for southwestern landscapes, summer storms, gardening, mushroom hunting, and farm life on her ranch in the Santa Cruz Valley are all represented in the show. “Louisa had a powerful drive and an insatiable zest for life, learning, and her art,” says Erickson. “This exhibition reflects her passion and illustrates her distinctively free style. It’s the common thread that makes all of these works une-quivocally Louisa McElwain paintings.” —Kim Agricola

contact information
505.995.9902
www.evokecontemporary.com

This story was featured in the August 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  August 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

MORE RESOURCES FOR ART COLLECTORS & ENTHUSIASTS
Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook

COMMENT