Show Preview | American Art Invitational

Denver, CO
Saks Galleries, May 9-31

Sophy Brown, Something Inside, acrylic, 35 x 39.

Sophy Brown, Something Inside, acrylic, 35 x 39.

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

There is broad diversity among the artworks in this year’s American Art Invitational, opening on May 9 at Saks Galleries in Denver—except in one respect: The exhibition’s almost 40 artists all share the distinction of being considered masters in the field of contemporary American representational art. “We’ve put together another must-see exhibition this year,” says show director Karen Sluss. The more than 75 paintings and sculptures feature styles ranging from realism to expressionism and cover the spectrum of landscape, still-life, figurative, and wildlife art. The show opens with a gala reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on May 9 and continues through May 31.

Sluss notes that Saks Galleries is especially excited to present some of its newest guest artists in the exhibition, including Utah painter Elizabeth Robbins, whose floral still lifes have earned national recognition in recent years, and British-born artist Sophy Brown. Working in acrylics on board, Brown is currently exploring the vital dynamics of horses that find themselves crowded together in groups. SOMETHING INSIDE and AFTERNOON DUST both express this theme, which for the artist often mirrors aspects of human behavior as well. “Horses’ responses are so eloquent because they’re physical, and therefore visual,” she explains. “They express the unfiltered, the instinctive—the initial responses human beings often temper or repress.”

For Missouri-based artist Tim Cherry, animals provide the inspiration for bronzes with sculptural approaches as varied as the creatures they depict. The stylized lines and subtle mystery in ARCTIC GHOST, for example, contrast with COTTONBALL, which conveys a rabbit’s naturally rounded form in a more traditional design. “As an artist, you jump in and go, and see where the piece leads you,” the amiable 48-year-old sculptor says. Cherry’s process also involves a range of patinas, from the snowy owl’s cool gray hues to the delicate blue-green of COTTONBALL.

Dean Mitchell, Parking on the Reservation, watercolor, 10 x 15.

Dean Mitchell, Parking on the Reservation, watercolor, 10 x 15.

Among Dean Mitchell’s contributions to the show is a watercolor from a current series looking at life on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community near Phoenix. PARKING ON THE RESERVATION reflects parallels between reservation life and that of economically disadvantaged African-American communities in rural northern Florida, where Mitchell grew up. The series seeks to illuminate elements of the contemporary American West that are sometimes overlooked in more romantic views. “The West is very beautiful and scenic, but within that live people who are struggling to survive in American culture,” Mitchell relates. His diverse subjects also include such paintings as MELANIE THE VIOLINIST, in which a young African-American musician sits in a classical pose, waiting to play. Helping dispel stereotypes is one of the ways Mitchell believes that “art can touch the human soul.”

Other top representational artists in the show include the Russian-born couple Olga and Aleksey Ivanov, who paint together using egg tempera; painters Marie Channer, John DeMott, Cyrus Afsary, Morten Solberg, and Marina Dieul; and sculptor Wayne Salge. As Sluss puts it, “This is a show not to miss.” 
—Gussie Fauntleroy

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