The Art Mob

the Art of Dennis Bredow

American Folklore

John Wayne's Pioneer (crop) copyright Dennis Bredow

I have found that looking at art and having conversations about art has always been the greatest catalyst to my creative process. I don't always seek these moments out - in fact I have been surprisingly unintentional about it - but these moments have been crucial to my growth as an artist. And in hindsight, they have always taken place in the presence of artists whose work is entirely unlike mine.

  • Attending Shepard Fairey's Revolutions show at Bergamot Station.
  • A field trip to the modern art wing of LACMA.
  • A quarterly 'burger and beer' art critique at Rush Street in Culver City.
  • A dinner in Santa Monica. Not with the intention of discussing art. Just dinner with good friends.

In each case I've walked away inspired and motivated to launch myself into a new artistic work. It was Shepard Fairey's work that inspired me to push myself further with the use of textural background elements combined with strong graphic images. It was the work of John Baldessari and Barbara Kruger who inspired a series of text based works with a simple or ironic message. It was at Rush Street that the merits of my first Mobil Pegasus piece (the first piece I would ever sell in a gallery) was discussed at length.

And it was the matter of fact response of a dear friend and great Finnish artist (Dashiana) that inspired the title of my upcoming show. 

Let me explain. 

I've always been enamored with mid-century design. I love all of it. I love the cars, the chairs, the shape of the ashtrays. I love the cheerful, tinny sound of the voice-over guy on seemingly every commercial. I love doctor's selling cigarettes, the unbearable optimism, and the almost painful directness of the advertising. 

I also love the mid-century view of the American West. Horses and cowboys and prospectors. I love the simplicity of the Western narrative that divides people and ideas into black and white, good and bad. I love the idea that good always prevails and that bad guys always get their comeuppance (I also love words like comeuppance, which I think we can all agree is not used nearly enough in this day and age). 

It was in this rambling manner that I had tried to explain my ideas to a table of artist friends. I wanted to try to create a body of Western work through the lens of the mid-century. I could speak about it and around it, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. 

Without missing a beat, Dashiana said "that's because the West is your American Folklore." 

There it was in two words. This is the story I wanted to tell. This was the through-line of the work I wanted to create. Folklore isn't 'accurate' or even remotely true - what better reflection of American advertising? It's about the narrative we want to present. It's the cleaner, easier, more nostalgic version of the real thing. 

My hope is that conversations take place around this work. Conversations that serve as a catalyst for the exchange of ideas. As creative inspiration. 

That's my long-winded way of saying: I am very proud to present - American Folklore.  

Western Indians on the Paper Plains (crop) copyright Dennis Bredow

What's So Great About: Chris Guest

Candy Floss copyright Chris Guest 2019

His style is unmistakable - bold and full of energy. You can find his pieces in galleries around the world or plastered about the streets of London. His work comes in many forms; as original paintings, prints, stickers ... a book (in both original and limited edition flavors), and a massively loyal Instagram following. But is he really this good?

Here's what's so great about Chris Guest.

THE STYLE. You could categorize Chris Guest's work in the classical figurative tradition, but that doesn't quite do him justice. These pieces have a style of their own, and everything about it has an edge. Taking the traditional and adding a contemporary twist, his work combines a masterful command of the art form with what could be considered 'traditional' subject matter. Add the tattoos, the props, the graffiti-style text, and the astonishing use of color and you have something uniquely 'Guest'. From the mark-making to the subject matter, his work exudes a kind of sexy, rock and roll vibe. It's poppy, it's kitschy, and it's super cool.

2X Shark copyright Chris Guest

THE GESTURE. Most artists will tell you - use the largest brush possible to accomplish the task. But saying and doing are two entirely different things. Chris Guest takes this to heart, and lets you join him on the ride (more on this later). With the use of impossibly gestural, sometimes aggressive strokes, he is creating beautifully dynamic portraits. These strokes break down into graphic shapes that are appealing in and of themselves. It feels as if year over year the work is becoming more reductive - as if the artist is looking for the most economical language with which to capture his subject. There is a beautiful simplification that happens in this approach, where the focal point receives the most attention while a secondary or tertiary element receives only four or five strokes. Portraiture, by the way, is hard. Capturing a likeness with a graphic gestural style is even harder. Chris Guest has cracked the code.

Self Portrait copyright Chris Guest

THE COLOR. There are a number of ways to approach color. Or I suppose you can be like Chris Guest and approach it from every direction at once. To start, he makes bold, vibrant color choices in his subjects and models. Using kiddie rides, pink hair, inflatable toys ... the palette is vibrating from the start. Then he doubles down by amping up the color and saturation on the palette. While his skin tones are still subtle and believable, they are surrounded and reinforced by some incredibly courageous color choices. You will inevitably find hints of underpainting popping through to liven up those flesh tones, or loosely scattered about the edges of the figure. Watching him boldly block in his vibrant yellow, red, or pink backgrounds is one of the most satisfying things you'll see on Instagram.

Joe with Toy Phone copyright Chris Guest

THE ACCESS. One of the things I appreciate most about Christ Guest is his willingness to show his own growth, and even his own mistakes. You will see him scrub out a face or work over the top of an unsuccessful painting, and in that moment, you realize that even the best artists get it wrong from time to time. It humanizes the work and it gives a bit of encouragement to those who are further behind in their artistic journey. He will show his reference photos against the final painted result, giving insight into his editing process. He shares a ton of work on Instagram, giving insight into his studio and his process, and provides even more info (and early purchase access) with his newsletter subscribers. He often hand embellishes prints, hand paints mailing tubes (which has to be an insane amount of work), or tosses in a little 'extra' thing just to be kind. With Chris Guest, it feels like there is almost always something extra, something more, something personal. It builds trust and intimacy and makes you feel like more than just an observer.

Cop Cathy Will Have Her Revenge on NYC copyright Chris Guest 2022

Style. Gesture. Color. Access. These are just a few of the things that make Chris Guest's work so appealing. He's put in the work to pursue his passion full time, and we are all the beneficiaries. Plus he has a cool British accent (probably).

Visit his website, follow him on Instagram, or maybe sign up for that newsletter and get early access to an original painting of your own. You won't regret it.

What's So Great About: Jill Soukup

Chico Basin Percherons 48" x 72" copyright Jill Soukup 2015

She has been called one of the '10 stars that will help define the future of Western Art'. Her work has been featured in countless magazines, including Western Art Collector, American Art Collector, Western Art & Architecture, and Canvas REBEL to name just a few. She's been featured on podcasts, offers classes on YouTube, and leads some of the most intriguing in-person paint workshops out there. But is she really that good?

Here's what's so great about Jill Soukup.

THE FUNDAMENTALS. It's not every day you hear someone talk about their passion for composition and color theory, but Jill Soukup is one such artist. Her work is so visually pleasing to look at, and her application of paint so seemingly effortless, that the structure on which it all hangs might easily go unnoticed. But the framework is all there, evident to anyone who will take the time to look. Her draftsmanship is SO solid, her compositions are intentional and bold, and her colors are rich and layered. I mean ... I can't be the only one that gets excited about aggressive cropping or beautifully layered paint?

White Horse Rhythms 36.25" x 40.25" copyright Jill Soukup 2020

THE MARK-MAKING. With an absolutely stunning use of color, layered with beautifully gestural mark-making, Jill Soukup's work comes together to create something that feels both real and ethereal. At first blush this is all representational painting, but a closer look reveals much greater complexity. What first appears as highly rendered detail is merely a masterful 'suggestion' using the fewest possible strokes. Each work is a beautifully balanced combination of light and dark values, soft and hard edges, real and abstract regions. Her application of paint is so confident and versatile - sometimes implying movement, other times lending history and interest to a completely static surface, with each stroke leaving some hint of what came before it.  

Green Criss Cross 72" x 72" copyright Jill Soukup 2011

THE INSTRUCTION. You can marvel at the work, but you can't follow Jill Soukup very long without learning something. Her Instagram account is a gold mine of finished works, sketches, and thumbnails that lend an insight into her process. She has led online workshops, joined podcasts, and found countless ways to invest in other artists. Perhaps her most significant teaching investment are her regular workshops at Ranchlands (a family ranching and conservation business that owns and manages livestock operations in the American West), a destination learning opportunity that incorporates intensive art instruction on a working ranch. What more could you ask for? 

Saddled 28" x 36" copyright Jill Soukup 2017

THE PERSONAL NARRATIVE. Call it kismet, destiny, or providence - there is something deeply satisfying about a person doing exactly what they were meant to do. The story of Jill Soukup is exactly that. A girl who loved horses and knew by the age of six that she wanted to be an artist. Combine the dreams and passion of that young painter with years of learning and concerted effort and you get this spectacular result. I can't help but think that her personal history lends a little extra 'something' to the work we see today. And her story should be shared with every aspiring artist, no matter how young. 

Saddled Dark Horse 20" x 16" copyright Jill Soukup 2013

Fundamentals. Mark-Making. Instruction. Personal Narrative. These are just a few of the things that make Jill Soukup's work so engaging. I didn't even have a chance to mention that her architectural work is just as compelling as her western work. Do yourself a favor and take the time to look at her prolific body of work. Then take the time to tell an aspiring artist about her story. Who knows - you may inspire the next Jill Soukup.

Visit her website, follow her on Instagram, or maybe keep an eye out for that next Ranchlands workshop experience. You won't regret it.

What's So Great About: Mark Maggiori

Heartbeats 45" x 60" copyright Mark Maggiori

Earlier this month, Mark Maggiori opened his latest solo show, Beyond the Golden Skies, at Legacy Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. There was no shortage of hype going into the show, and the Insta-verse has been abuzz with videos and reaction from his uber-successful opening. Sixteen paintings sold by draw at retail price, with an additional nine paintings sold at auction at 'well over' the high estimates, which is a bit of an understatement considering the piece In the Middle Runs A River sold for a cool half a million dollars. But is all the hype really warranted?

Here's what's so great about Mark Maggiori.

THE STORY. Each Mark Maggiori painting tells a story. A carefully curated stage with characters and places that are somehow both entirely believable and too fantastic to be true. This is purposeful; the settings and people are real, photographed and staged in the few remaining wild places of the West. They are then interpreted in the studio to include the perfect composition, the most magical lighting, and of course those trademark Maggiori clouds.

THE FOUNDATION. Mark Maggiori is no amateur - he's a generational talent (though to use the word 'talent' alone belies the effort that goes into developing a craft like his). There is a reason his work is reminiscent of the old masters - because he has followed a similar path of education, doing his formal study in Paris, and putting in the work of maintaining those foundational muscles. And trust me, it's work. These are not skills you develop and then 'have' in perpetuity. These are skills that are trained and maintained with effort.

Headed to Payson 11.5" x 20" copyright Mark Maggiori

Certainly his skill is obvious in the painstakingly rendered detail of his finished pieces. But it is perhaps even more evident in his sketches and studies, in which the confidence of his mark making and his sense of value and proportion are on full display. Each finished work is hung securely on this masterful underlying structure of form, composition, light, value, and color.

Tuah Tah 54" x 80" copyright Mark Maggiori

THE BRAND. You know a Mark Maggiori painting when you see one, and that's harder to accomplish than you might think. It's in the palette, it's in the romantic narrative, and it's certainly in the clouds. But the artist himself is also the brand. It's the whole look - the tattoos, the vintage clothing, the boots, the stunning studio space, and the vintage American cars. All of it sells. And maybe there is something to the dichotomy of a French artist painting the American West ... and lapping the field while he does it.

THE ACCESS. It is rare to find an artist of this caliber who will do both limited edition (a set number) and timed edition prints (30 hour sale window with no limit on the number sold). Even more rare to find one that will ask your opinion on which pieces to reproduce. The skeptic would say he sells more work this way. Sure. It's good business. But the reality for the consumer is, you can purchase high quality prints of one of the great living western artists for a very reasonable price. Follow on Instagram and you'll even get some behind the scenes looks at what it takes to produce and distribute these prints, including the mountains of prints he signs and numbers by hand with each edition.

In the Middle Runs a River 36" x 32" copyright Mark Maggiori

Story. Foundation. Brand. Access. There is a reason his work smashed auction records. Personally, I was grateful to have purchased prints of his sketches years ago, and maybe kicking myself just a little for not buying the one original I've been fortunate enough to see in person (though let's be honest - that was never a very realistic option). And while you might feel a little sticker shock when you see that $500,000 price tag ... I don't think it will be too long from now that we'll be thinking, "what a steal."

Visit his website, sign up for his newsletter, or follow him on Instagram. You won't regret it.

I Wouldn't Call Them 'Essential'

essential [uh-sen-shuh l] Adjective 1. absolutely necessary; indispensable:

When you think of the word essential, you think of dictionary definition number one; absolutely necessary. You rarely think of the word in terms of definition number four; spontaneous.

But in the medical field definition number four is, apparently, valid. And so it is that I find myself diagnosed with something called Essential Tremors. You might see why I would take issue with the name. When you first hear about it, it sounds like something you can’t live without. How fortunate - one might think - that I am one of the 10 million people in the world who get to have this indispensable nerve condition. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that in this case we are using a more rarely (read: never before) applied definition of the word.

Essential Tremor (ET) is a nerve disorder characterized by uncontrollable shaking in different parts and on different sides of the body. Areas affected often include the hands, arms, head, larynx, tongue, and chin. ET is not a life-threatening disorder, unless it prevents a person from caring for him or herself. Most people are able to live normal lives with this condition -- although they may find everyday activities like eating, dressing, or writing difficult. It is only when the tremors become severe that they actually cause disability.

You might feel I’m making light of something serious - and that’s probably true. A defense mechanism? Perhaps. But I’d like to think it has more to do with perspective. It is not a life threatening diagnosis. It does not, at least for the time being, significantly alter my quality of life. I have many friends and family members facing much more serious illnesses and disorders, so it’s safe to say this pales in comparison.

It does, however, have serious implications for my work as an artist. For the time being (and on the recommendation of my doctor) I will not be painting - at all. This is partly to reduce fatigue and pursue the most effective treatment options, and partly because I am at times unable to draw a straight line. As one who takes great pride and whose work relies heavily on precision (see previous post on ‘craftsmanship’), this constitutes a serious obstacle.

Being an artist is part of who I am, so there is certainly a sense of loss as I consider this diagnosis. I believe God has wired me with a passion to create and appreciate art, which is a reflection of His own creativity and passion. This diagnosis does not make me any less an artist. It does, however, make me a significantly less prolific artist, and has serious implications for my work going forward. 

Just Looking Gallery, it should be noted, has been unbelievably supportive during this time. When we began working together years ago, I could not have imagined an artist/gallery relationship that would have been so rewarding. Regardless of what comes next, Ralph Gorton and Ken McGavin have given me the opportunity to fulfill a dream. They have not only been champions of my work, but have become friends in the process. Even now they are giving me all the time I need to seek treatment, to discover options, and consider what the future holds for me as an artist in their gallery. I am exceedingly grateful. 

For those of you who have been kind enough to follow my work, you will see fewer updates, as I currently have no works in progress. For those of you on the waiting list for commissioned work, I’m afraid you will have to continue to wait with me as we see what the future holds. 

Thank you to friends and collectors for all of the encouraging notes. I am humbled. I will update further as events warrant, but for now I wait patiently for medication to take effect and for rest to restore better functionality to my incorrigibly uncooperative hand. In the meantime, I turn my attention to those things which are truly essential - a sovereign God, a loving family, and great friends. 

Socks that Stop Traffic

In construction it’s called ‘fit and finish’. In the culinary world it’s known as ‘presentation’. When it comes to a finished piece of art, I like to think of it as ‘craftsmanship’.

Personally, I want every art piece I produce to meet a certain level of craftsmanship. I first learned this as a fourteen year old intern in advertising when the Principal of the agency told me, 'presentation is everything.' A last minute idea (even a bad idea) with a rough marker comp, if presented well, can sell.

Today, any moron can open a word processor or free image editor and slap together a horrible logo or create some aesthetically offensive signage for a building. But there was a day when companies hired some of the greatest and most well known artists and illustrators in the world to create their brands, advertisements, and signage. Imagine having masters like Andrew Loomis or J.C. Leyendecker illustrating advertisements for shirts and socks. Why? Because presentation is everything. Who cares about shirts and socks? If the socks are going to make me a Leyendecker man, I do.

This level of quality and care is one of the things that draws me to the subject matter of my work; mid-century American products, manufacturing, and graphic design. In a day and age where products are increasingly cheaper, poorly conceived, and mass-produced, I’m drawn to a time when there was great pride in what was created. Cars, advertisements, even the way people dressed spoke of a level of personal pride and responsibility. If you wear Arrow shirts or Interwoven socks, you too will stop traffic and get a ride from a beautiful woman. The woman, incidentally, looks pretty keen as well. No running errands in yoga pants for her, she's got the hat, the gloves, the fur coat ... everything about her says she cares about the way she looks and she's drawn to a like-minded man. It is a beautifully crafted piece of art which speaks to a time when we would pursue beauty even in utility.

For the artist, craftsmanship is not only a point of personal pride, but a matter of respect for the viewer. I believe that if someone is going to look at your work on a gallery wall, or pay you the highest compliment and purchase the work to hang in their home, they should be confident that it represents the artist’s best effort. It’s why I use authentic 1950’s source material in my work. It’s why I labor over detail. On rare occasions, it’s why I throw away paintings in which I’ve invested countless hours. You are probably starting to think I have ‘issues’. But art is often an expression of deeply rooted issues. When someone looks at my work I want it to be clear that each mark and compositional choice is by design and not by accident. I don’t work on a piece until it is ‘good enough’, I work on it until it is finished.

Don’t get me wrong, there are commercial artists today who are true craftsmen. Todd SandersSam SprattSeonna Hong come to mind as great examples. These are incredibly talented artists who produce consistently stunning work. These and many others should serve as inspiration to both established and emerging artists. Perhaps we can all reclaim a bit of that nostalgia that would drive us to create work that stops traffic - and worth the time and energy invested by both the artist and the viewer. 

Compliments & Restraining Orders

I still remember the first time I saw a painting by Max Strauss.

I was 18 years old and fairly ignorant when it came to fine art. I had already spent a number of years working in advertising and graphic design and had been educated as an illustrator and designer. In my circle of commercial artists, we mostly just made fun of the fine artists and assumed they would either starve to death or be forced to get a real job. But I clearly remember seeing this painting hanging over the desk of one of my co-workers. And I loved it.

It was a painting of toys. Those incredibly simple, small, plastic Fisher Price characters. To this day I can see that painting in my head. At the time I had never seen anything like it, and I knew I loved everything about it.

As it turned out, it was a painting by Maxfield Strauss. It hung over the desk of the woman he was dating (and whom he would later marry). I didn’t know what to do about it, so I did the only thing I could think to do. I wrote him a letter and told him how much I liked it. All these years later, I have no idea what I said (and I’m sure I would be mortified to find out), but it felt like I needed to do something.

I think it’s important to acknowledge work that you love. Who doesn’t want to receive that kind of feedback about their work? Since that early letter to Maxfield, I have contacted numerous other artists whose work I admire. Over the years I have reached out to artists like Robert Mars, Todd Sanders, Alban, Shaun Richards, Jane MaxwellKim Cogan, and many others. Most, if not all, have responded with kindness. Some, over time, have developed into genuine friendships. 

With Robert Mars at his show opening in Laguna Beach, CA - complete with giddy fanboy smile (mine, not his)

The truth is, many artists never hear compliments about their work, or what it is exactly that resonates with buyers/collectors/admirers. Aside from show openings or studio visits, it’s actually rare for an artist to watch people interact with their work or explain what they love about it. It is a unique privilege for an artist to get complimentary feedback on their work.

I would later find out that Maxfield kept the letter that I wrote to him. Nearly ten years later, we found ourselves working together and have since become close friends. It was a friendship that began with a painting and a compliment, and continues to this day. Maxfield is what I would call a ‘real’ artist. He has a profound respect for art and artists, and has greatly expanded my understanding and appreciation of both. 

 Just as a point of clarification, it’s okay to contact an artist. It’s not okay to stalk an artist. You aren’t writing to ask them to be your best friend. I don’t suggest that you contact them so they can review your work and give you advice (though to my great embarrassment I have done exactly that). Writing with an agenda is different than offering a compliment. My suggestion is that you write because you love their work, and you feel they deserve to hear it. 

 Perhaps you are still hesitant. If it helps, artists who don’t want to hear from you or don’t care to receive correspondence simply won’t respond. Or perhaps they will create a contact page with a submission form that never works (I’m looking at you, That’s okay too, and particularly understandable for higher profile artists. But what do you really have to lose? 

 So go ahead and reach out to those artists who inspire you. You just might end up with a lifelong friendship … or a restraining order.

Home on the Range

"You can help the homeless if you vote for my cow."

That's the kind of statement that will make your head explode without further explanation. For the sake of your sanity, I have provided further information below.

If you follow theArtMob even a little, you know that last year I was sponsored by a local company (BCA) to paint a cow. Yes, an actual full size fiberglass cow for the Cow Parade event in San Luis Obispo County.


The Cow Parade is an international public art exhibit that has been featured in major world cities. Fiberglass sculptures of cows are decorated by local artists, and distributed over the city centre, in public places such as train stations, important avenues, and parks. After the exhibition in the city, which may last many months, the statues are auctioned off and the proceeds donated to charity. The Cow Parade has been a hugely successful fundraiser, raising over $30 million globally for the communities who have hosted the event. 


My particular cow will be auctioned off to benefit a new homeless services center in San Luis Obispo (40 Prado). The new homeless services center at 40 Prado Road is a brand new, innovative facility that will consolidate existing day and night services under one roof. It will provide space for a collaborative network of services to help homeless individuals and families create a path toward stability and permanent housing solutions. 


While the ultimate goal is to raise money, that's not what I hope to receive from followers of theArtMob. Certainly you are welcome to bid on your very own cow, or buy tickets to the Charity Auction event, which includes beer and wine and a prime rib dinner. The beer and wine is to compromise your judgement and maximize your bid. The prime rib is presumably to remind you of what you are bidding on. 

In all seriousness, please consider casting a vote for my cow, #78 Jesse/Jane. The top 10 cows in fan voting by April 30th will automatically go to the Charity Live Auction May, 2017. You can vote for your favorite cow once a day between now and then. A vote for Jesse/Jane gets her closer to the auction, which increases the opportunity for bidding, which in turn helps the homeless.

You can see all the cows and cast your vote(s) here.

Art From Mars

Do you know what that is? That, my friends, is the signature of one Robert Mars.

And … oh nothing … it’s in my living room.

I am now the proud owner of an original Robert Mars. When I first came across his paintings I literally thought I should give up my pursuit of fine art altogether. Everything I hoped my work would become was already represented in his portfolio. They included all of the nostalgic icons I love (including but not limited to: the Mobil pegasus, the Texaco star, classic cars, etc). It was actually a little depressing.

Over time I grew to appreciate the differences in our style, our technique, and our point of view and eventually came to realize that there is always room for more art and more artists. But my appreciation drove me to write to Mars and inquire about his work. I was surprised when he replied. I was even more surprised when we began a dialogue about our work. I am probably most surprised that my work now hangs in his home, and his in mine.

The piece on it’s own is spectacular (just look at that sweet high gloss finish). You really have to see it in person to appreciate it. Bold colors and subtle details mean you can look at it for hours and still find something new to appreciate.

But to me it will always represent something much more. Mars has been so generous with his time and advice, and has been a true encouragement to me. It will serve as a constant reminder of both his talent and his kindness.

What's So Great About: James Rieck

James Rieck Studio Visit 2014

A decade ago I had the opportunity of visiting the studio of painter James Rieck. I had only recently become familiar with his work and was impressed from the start. But seeing his work is person was a completely different experience. In honor of his upcoming show at Rubine Red Gallery in Palm Springs, CA, it seemed only right to revisit this artist to make sure everyone knows . . .

Here's what's so great about James Rieck.

THE SCALE. The sheer size of the work and the quality of execution are really quite spectacular. James’ beautifully subtle manipulation of paint is unlike any work I have seen. At distance the work has an element of realism that you can only assume will break down as you get closer to the canvas. This is not the case. In fact, at proximity the work is even more impressive. It has a nearly photographic quality as you find soft edges and almost no traces of mark making whatsoever. It's an impressive feat for any painter - but when you consider how large these paintings are the accomplishment is only more impressive.

Deluxe Ensemble 108" x 108" copyright James Rieck

THE PALETTE. Rieck's use of color is perfectly suited to his subject matter. A vintage Best Western ashtray painted in a palette that makes it look as if it was photographed in the late 1960's. An entire series of paintings using only red and green, which is not only impressive, but provides plenty of contrast while giving each painting in the series a beautiful harmony. Even his black and white work is perfectly executed, placing all of the emphasis on form and composition. The color is always perfectly suited to the subject, as if it couldn't have been executed in any other way. 

Enter the Dragon 82" x 54" copyright James Rieck

THE CONCEPT. James displays a level of skill that most artists spend a lifetime pursuing. However, after speaking with him for awhile I’m convinced that the execution of the piece is really secondary. For James, the purity of the concept really trumps all. Rather than using his own photographs as the basis for his paintings, he creatively crops and manipulates piles of reference until his composition and concept feels cohesive. And yet, each series looks as if he hired and staged the models himself. This gives his work a ‘found object’ quality which only enhances the experience of viewing his work. For him, I believe, this is where the real angst lies. This is the work – pouring over and accumulating reference until he finds just the right pieces with which to make his fabulous paintings.

Jamaica 34" x 55" copyright James Rieck

Scale. Palette. Concept. Rieck's work is not only flawlessly executed it's a unique brand of visual storytelling. He invites you into the work and then allows you enough time and space to get lost in it. A true pleasure to have met such a gifted and humble artist who was willing to open his studio and share his process. Overall, an inspiring visit that will stay with me for decades. 

Visit his website or follow him on Instagram. You won't regret it.

Gert Lush

Received a very cool surprise in the mail from friend and British artist Paul Ayers – a beautiful five color limited edition print from his current “Bristol Post” series. The prints are all based upon soviet stamps from the 1960′s and represent a tongue in cheek imagining of an independent republic of Bristol (also home to well known British street artist Banksy).

Paul has set the bar high with these meticulous reconstructions. His screen positives are created on clear film using permanent black pens, drawing inks, and Chinagraph pencils. It’s an honor to have such a beautiful piece and a wonderful reminder of my brief time living and working in the UK. By the way, “Gert Lush” is Bristle (Bristol’s dialect) for “Really Great”. Gert Lush Paul, Gert Lush!