Culver City, CA
Maxwell Alexander Gallery, December 5-26
This story was featured in the December 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story
Monument Valley, a sandstone masterpiece composed of pinnacles that tower up to a thousand feet high, draws artists from across the country to create masterpieces of their own. This month, Maxwell Alexander Gallery is honoring the iconic destination with a show devoted to it. It has become a tradition for the gallery to organize a show based on a geographic locale; last year, it mounted an exhibition dedicated to Arizona’s Vermilion Cliffs.
The Monument Valley show features 10 gallery artists and opens with a reception on December 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. Logan Maxwell Hagege, Mark Maggiori, Scott Burdick, Glenn Dean, and David Grossmann are among the participating artists, each of whom brings one or two pieces to the show. “It’s fun to get these artists together and have them paint the same thing; each has his own distinct style. That’s why people collect art: because you’re able to see what they see and get a glimpse into the artist’s mind. In this show you see 10 different vantage points,” says gallery owner Beau Alexander. “It’s not like you’re telling them to paint a cowboy, because they could pick ones with so many different qualities. Monument Valley isn’t changing. It takes [the artist] to give a unique perspective.”
Grossmann painted Monument Valley for the first time this year. “It was very inspiring to paint somewhere that is so iconic and unusual,” he says. Grossmann captured one of his first views of the valley—the light on the landscape so fleeting in contrast to the static rock formations. “In Monument Valley there is an immediate sense of contrast because the vastness of the landscape makes everything else feel insignificant. There is an emotional contrast for me that brings out a feeling in myself of being fragile and temporary,” Grossmann observes.
Glenn Dean paints in Monument Valley once a year. For this show, he created a late-evening scene near spires that rise like totems from the desert floor. “Every evening is different. This one was interesting because the moon was coming up and the light was really strong on the mesa. I was trying to embody the feeling of the evening,” he says.
Scott Burdick is a frequent visitor to the nearby Navajo Nation, delving into the cultural history and its people. For the show, he portrays a Navajo woman against the buttes. “There was something similar in the way the weather, sun, and elements over her lifetime weathered her face and the landscape around her,” Burdick says. The woman, who was in her 70s, didn’t speak English; her nephew served as her translator. “I feel very fortunate to be able to experience people who have grown up in traditional cultures and all the history they’ve preserved through their experiences. There are very few people left who are like that. I feel fortunate to preserve that culture by painting it,” he says. —Ashley M. Biggers
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