Cody, WY, June 14-28
Geoff Parker’s landscapes offer a unique view of what some might call the “real West.” Born and raised in Wyoming’s Big Horn Basin—amongst sage-covered flats, high-plains grasses, and wind-scrubbed rocks—Parker quickly developed a sense of adventure and an intense love for what many consider a harsh and uninviting landscape. As a result, “Geoff’s paintings record what seems plain and artless to many and reveal its unique beauty,” says Chuck Neustifter, director at Simpson Gallagher Gallery.
This month, the gallery reveals 50 to 60 never-before-seen works by Parker. The show features paintings that reflect Parker’s recent travels throughout New Mexico, Arizona, and California as well as his home state of Wyoming and a trip further afield to Costa Rica.
Parker’s interest in art began at a very young age, and in 1970 he began his formal art education at California’s Academy of Fine Art in San Francisco. He was inspired by the energetic style of the early 20th-century California painters and especially admired their willingness to leave their studios and paint en plein air. Today the artist says he still “would rather paint outside than do anything else.”
Following art school, Parker’s adventurous spirit took hold. “There were periods during this epoch of my life where I would drift around just looking at the world,” he says. Parker spent several years working on ranches as a cowhand for some of the largest outfits in Wyoming. When he began painting full time in his early 30s, it was clear that his personal experience of the West would have a tremendous influence on his art. “Geoff sees the West from a working man’s perspective,” Neustifter says. “Though he does occasionally paint the dramatic views, he avoids the cliché, the temptation to embellish. His paintings are not picturesque, as in ‘pretty pictures,’ and those who value the West, from its dry coolies to its puzzles of rock and sage, can appreciate this honest perspective.”
Parker’s latest body of work represents the current stage of his artistic career, in which he feels he is finally able to paint for the sheer joy of it. “I don’t worry about what others want,” he says. “I’m painting what I want to paint. I travel and camp and just paint what I feel every day.”
Ultimately, Parker hopes his art inspires people to take a second look at their surroundings. “Everything in nature is such a miracle,” he says. “I hope people will be inspired to take a look at the sort of miracle they’re involved in.” —Lindsay Mitchell
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