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Tom Birkner and Don Stinson
Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Recommendation by Drew Lenihan


Tom Birner, "Scene Somewhere in Texas," 2014, oil on canvas, 38 x 60"

Continuing through January 10, 2015

Snapshots of the American West comprise the paintings of Tom Birkner and Don Stinson. Birkner paints lost moments from the road; blurry, out of focus roadsides, hotels and abandoned gas stations that one sees and forgets at seventy miles an hour. From an off-kilter perspective, broken billboards and water towers sneak into the corner of the paintings, people and cars appear and disappear, giving the body of work a sense of movement and instability. His unique color palette casts these landscapes in vibrant color. The paintings frequently morph from blues to red, yellow to green, as if fractals of sunlight are hitting the windows of a moving car. This color scheme also works as a focal device, drawing the eye to a single subject in the painting before dissipating into darker hues.

Similarly, Stinson's work focuses on hidden fragments found in the Western landscape, but looks to make more poetic, social criticisms through juxtaposition. He depicts neon signs against the stars, or airplanes passing over cowboy-themed bars. His work engages the viewer in a dialogue of the real versus the imaginary in the American West. The work conveys how history and an romanticized beauty of the landscape is often viewed through the lens of contemporary signifiers. Stinson skillfully examines this in order to illuminate allegorical errors in mythologized or forgotten corners of the Western landscape.


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