Show Preview | Maura Allen & Denny Haskew

Santa Fe, NM
Sorrel Sky Gallery, June 2-30

Maura Allen, Defiance, acrylic, 40 x 60.

Maura Allen, Defiance, acrylic, 40 x 60.

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

This month contemporary western painter Maura Allen and Native American figurative sculptor Denny Haskew share timeless narratives of the American West in a heartfelt exhibition titled Geography of Hope. The show opens at Sorrel Sky Gallery on Friday, June 2, with an artists’ reception at 5 p.m. “Both artists are authentic and express themselves on a spiritual level,” says gallery owner Shanan Campbell Wells. “Maura lives, breathes, and celebrates the cowboy lifestyle, capturing the spirit of the West as it stretches back in time and reaches into our futures. Denny’s work conveys his innermost being. You can feel his emotion in his sculptures.” 

Allen introduces a dozen new acrylic paintings that feature her signature high-contrast silhouettes of cowboys, cowgirls, and other western imagery, but many of these pieces feature light or stark-white backgrounds that enhance details of color, texture, and movement. “You’re looking into the painting versus at the object,” Allen explains. “I create more of a world inside. This approach allows people to be transported and think of their own stories of the West.”

The Denver, CO, artist titled her latest collection Geography of Hope, borrowing an expression once used by the American historian and novelist Wallace Stegner. “He used it in many ways,” she says, “one being the idea that the West represents possibility. People moved West after hearing stories about it; they got excited and interested. In this show I’m tying geography loosely to place, but to me it’s bigger than that.”

Some paintings have backgrounds that resemble rocky western topographies, and each piece is named after a western town. “It’s a place, yes,” says Allen, “but it’s also the magic of the West.” DEFIANCE, for example, portrays a cowboy’s dogged stance as he watches a branding, his western gear aflame in searing reds and yellows. In DURANGO DAYS, vintage lettering inspired by a 19th-century bustier advertisement slinks behind the bold silhouette of a free-spirited modern cowgirl. “It’s not a story about the Old West versus the new West, traditional versus contemporary,” observes Allen. “We’re on a continuum, and everything blends together.”

Haskew brings as many as 14 bronze sculptures in varying sizes and patinas to the show. Several pieces depict little-known Native American customs, including those of Haskew’s own tribe, the Potawatomi Citizen Nation. Like Allen, the Loveland, CO, artist draws upon the past for inspiration but shapes his works with a contemporary mindfulness and personal vision. In GATEKEEPER he portrays a Potawatomi man standing in the tree pose, a vestige of the sculptor’s own studies in yoga. The man wears a fur-lined vestment, something northern Great Lakes tribesmen might have worn, explains Haskew, but his more unusual headdress of bright feathers represents a prized trade article from Florida. “In tribal lore, the gatekeeper was someone who had one foot in the physical world and one foot in the spiritual world. I like that,” says Haskew. “Everything I do is a reminder to me of how I want to be and how I want to look at things.” —Kim Agricola

contact information
866.878.3555
www.sorrelsky.com

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

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