Show Preview | Chris Morel

Santa Fe, NM
Nedra Matteucci Galleries, June 21-July 12

Chris Morel, Sunset Lake, oil, 24 x 36.

Chris Morel, Sunset Lake, oil, 24 x 36.

This story was featured in the June 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art June 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

Northern New Mexico artist Chris Morel is prepared to stop his car whenever and wherever he sees a scene that has the potential to become a perfect painting. It’s not uncommon for him to drive along the high road to Taos, close to where he lives, and be so awestruck by the way light is peeking through a grouping of trees that he immediately puts on the brakes and documents the experience. Many of the more than 20 paintings in Morel’s solo show at Nedra Matteucci Galleries this month came about this way. “I stay open to the idea that beautiful landscapes can be 100 yards from my house,” he says.

Dawn to Dusk: Landscapes by Chris Morel opens with an artist’s reception from 2 to 4 p.m. on June 21 and remains on view until July 12. The show is a journey to some of Morel’s favorite places in the Southwest, with an emphasis on New Mexico and Colorado. On trips to Santa Fe, Morel balances his attention between watching traffic and watching the enchanting views on both sides of the highway. During one early evening drive, he became totally enamored with the last moments of light on the surrounding mesas and had to pull off the road. “I told myself, I’ve got to get this,” he says. “I call the painting TESUQUE EVENING.”

Chris Morel, Las Trampas, oil, 30 x 40.

Chris Morel, Las Trampas, oil, 30 x 40.

The tiny northern New Mexico communities of Las Trampas and Truchas are represented in the show. So are scenes of Colorado’s Sunset Lake and a river in La Junta. Morel has visited and painted these locations numerous times during the past two decades. “When I first got to Taos 20 years ago, I spent most of my time painting outdoors,” he explains. “I would paint in the snow in 9-degree weather. It’s so important to see true color from life. It’s also important for me to know how the winter chill feels in the late afternoon by being outside and experiencing it so I can use my skills to translate that feeling into a painting.”

Morel plans to spend more time painting outdoors since he acquired his “paint mobile.” A modified van body with a window in the back and an RV unit on top, this new mode of transportation allows him to have a few creature comforts while intimately connecting with the landscape around him. When he needs to work indoors, his new studio provides just the right amount of northern light.

“Chris Morel’s beautiful new studio and just-acquired paint mobile reflect his happy immersion into a creative lifestyle that presents us with perceptive and beautifully accomplished landscape paintings,” says gallery owner Nedra Matteucci. “The more I get to know him, I find that his dedication to painting and determination to keep pushing his artistic boundaries with such pure joy is very inspiring.” —Emily Van Cleve

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Featured in the June 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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