“This is the West” is Sorrel Sky Gallery’s show opening on June 1 that focuses on Western characters and the Western landscape captured by Maura Allen and Jim Rey in their paintings.
“Maura and Jim are both so devoted to expressing what they see as ‘the West’ yet each approaches the creative process so differently,” says Sorrel Sky Gallery’s owner Shanan Campbell Wells. “Both of them convey their deep love and appreciation for their surroundings.”
Allen displays more than a dozen new pieces in the show, including highly graphic acrylic on panel paintings in a circular shape. “I started working with the circle format about one year ago,” explains Allen, who lives in Denver. “There’s imagery within imagery. I’ve always wanted to work with the circle because it feels like a window into the West.”
Trips to rodeos, where Allen positions herself behind the shoots for a different perspective on the event, and participation in horse drives provide powerful inspiration for her work. “I’m always looking for nuances in Western life,” she adds. “I like seeing traditions passed from one generation to the next.”
Allen spends a quarter of her time on the road, photographing iconic Western scenes. She’s as interested in little kids busting mutton as she is in the seasoned rodeo announcers who’ve been behind the scenes for half a century.
Back in the studio, Allen examines thousands of photos, looking for movements and shapes that excite her. “For me, it’s about telling the story of the West, both the old and the new,” she says.
Rey, who has spent decades living the ranching experience, has been depicting those experiences for close to 50 years. He not only refers to his own memories but also explores new ranches and landscape locations.
Rey used both paintbrushes and his fingers in the creation of the work in the show to help him feel empathy for his subjects.