Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, CA
February 23-March 13
This story was featured in the February 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art February 2013 print edition, or download the Southwest Art February 2013 issue now…Or just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
When Charley Snow graduated from the University of Utah in 1997 with a degree in fine art, he wanted to focus on painting the figure. He never really planned on portraying beefy, four-legged creatures on canvas. But when he realized how inexpensive and available cows could be as models, he decided that bovines fit both his artistic and budgetary needs. “I soon discovered that every cow had its own personality and gesture,” Snow says. “Now I see painting cows like painting portraits.”
This month Coda Gallery features new works by the Utah-based artist in a solo show, which opens with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on February 23. The presentation features 15 to 20 new works—portraits mostly of cows, some of sheep, and possibly a few of Beans, Snow’s Boston terrier. “People seem to connect to cows in a way they don’t when the subject is a person,” the artist says. “Instead of wondering who the subject is, they focus more on the physicality of the paint, and they interpret the work more personally.”
What Snow enjoys most about painting is translating his subject matter into marks on the canvas, whether it’s cows or the western landscape, which he also paints on occasion. His mission is always to capture the essence of his subject. For example, if houses are the painting’s focal point, Snow thinks about how each structure holds the key to thousands of stories of people who once lived inside. He then works to evoke that individual personality and history in his portrayals.
But Snow continues to be best known for his engaging depictions of cows, which he often bestows with names such as Maria, Donna, Greta, and Twinkie. The monikers match the personality of the subject, Snow says, or they honor someone he knows, such as his grandparents William and Velma. “I actually like naming the cows because I develop a personal relationship with each one as I paint it,” he explains. “Almost all cattle live their lives anonymously, so my paintings are a means of calling attention to the unnamed things around us.” —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the February 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art magazine February 2013 digital download
Southwest Art magazine February 2013 print edition
Or subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!
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