Show Preview | Total Arts Gallery: Ken Spencer & David Riedel

Taos, NM, August 4-27

Ken Spencer, New Hay, oil, 6 x 11.

Ken Spencer, New Hay, oil, 6 x 11.

This story was featured in the July 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art magazine July 2012 print edition here, or purchase the Southwest Art magazine July 2012 digital download here. Or simply click here to subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!

From August 4 to 27, Total Arts Gallery showcases the Renaissance-like still lifes of David Riedel and the vibrant impressionistic landscapes of Ken Spencer. The two-man show, comprising 15 to 20 new works from each artist, opens with a reception on August 4 from 5 to 7 p.m. “Ken Spencer’s landscapes and David Riedel’s still lifes lend themselves to each other so naturally,” says Emily Wilde, the gallery’s assistant director. “Their color palettes, styles, and subject matter complement each other perfectly.”

From the craggy cliffs of the Southwest to forested mountain groves and meadows, Spencer’s landscapes capture a wild America—and a touch of tamer Europe. Spencer, who refers to his style as painterly representationalism, says, “This is some of the best work I’ve ever done. I feel like I’ve grown in the last year or two.” In addition to expanding his skills, Spencer has also increased his canvas sizes—some are as large as 3 feet by 4 feet.

Although his scenes of the American West and European vistas are inviting and evolve from his plein-air experience, he says, “My philosophy of artwork is that the subject matter is secondary. I equally enjoy all the subjects, but when I get really excited, it’s about great color harmonies and composition. Something happens that transcends the subject matter. Brush strokes are an important part of my work,” he adds. “My intent is to create form with these brush strokes.”

Hailing from the high-mountain desert of Blackfoot, ID, Spencer has been seriously creating art since he was 14. “Nothing else had that pull or spoke to me like the act of creation,” he says.

David Riedel, Study in Red and White, oil, 24 x 30.

David Riedel, Study in Red and White, oil, 24 x 30.

Although Riedel’s still-life works continue in his traditional old-world style, they depart from his usual work in that he has dramatically darkened the backgrounds, giving them a mysterious but alluring tension and drama. Glistening ceramic pots and jugs come to life with color and an almost mystical presence. Favoring strong contrasts between light and dark, his sensuous renderings of fruit, flowers, ceramics, and textiles are cornucopias of color and light. His new works are also larger and have fewer objects in them, and the more spacious, inky backgrounds heighten the drama and mood. “It’s just a simple, elegant design with a lot of atmosphere,” Riedel says. He describes his approach as “a classical painting style, more old school.”

Like Spencer, Riedel has created art from his earliest years and never considered any other profession. Originally from Indiana, he attended Northern Arizona University and the Art Students League of New York. “There were so many great teachers there. David Leffel was the first teacher I studied with, and his way of teaching really struck a chord with me.” Other influences were John Singer Sargent, Richard Schmid, and various Taos artists.

“We have always strongly believed in the talent, professionalism, passion, and hard work that both Ken Spencer and David Riedel possess,” says Wilde. “We are very proud of their progress in both their careers and their technical expertise. We have represented them for a large part of their careers and are happy to have this opportunity to be able to offer yet another spotlight onto their most recent efforts. It is going to be a lovely show.” 
—Reed Glenn

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Featured in the July 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art magazine July 2012 digital download
Southwest Art magazine July 2012 print edition
Or click here to subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!



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