Southwest Abstraction | June 28-July 19, 2013

June 28 to July 19, 2013

Southwest Abstraction

Mary Tomas, Scott Wilson MacLaren, Jarrett West and Brian Arthur

Reception Friday, June 28, 5:00 – 7:00 PM

GVG Contemporary presents ‘Southwest Abstraction’ June 28-July 19 at 202 Canyon Road in Santa Fe. An opening reception with the artists will be held on Friday, June 28th, from 5 to 7pm. This exhibition showcases the work of artists who draw inspiration from the experience of being in the Southwestern United States. ‘Southwest Abstraction’ features new paintings by Mary Tomas, photography by Scott Wilson MacLaren, monolithic ceramic sculpture by Jarrett West, and bark sculpture by Brian Arthur–who finds both his inspiration and materials in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of northern New Mexico.

Mary Tomas, of Dallas, Texas, makes oil paintings on canvas which employ thin washes of paint layered over one another, to create an ethereal, atmospheric chiaroscurism. These light and dark washes of color describe a space that puts the viewer into a meditative state of mind: that middle ground somewhere in between dream, memory, and presence. In ‘Southwest Abstraction,’ Tomas’s work meditates on “the Southwestern light, terrain, colors, and proximity to the heavens” as inspiration. She further explains, “my focus is in the natural world, and the layers of evolution that have developed over thousands of years.”

In a more postmodern exploration of the Southwest region, photographer Scott Wilson MacLaren presents images from his series ‘Drive-By,’ “work that expresses my passion for the Southwest, but–as I most often experience it–at speed, on my way to a shoot or a location I have planned to visit and photograph.” MacLaren continues: “There is a consistent, cohesive story in this work, borne of the repetitive rhythms and patterns I have experienced for ages, on every car trip I have taken, in the vastness of this region, to anywhere.” The photographs are large-format digital chromogenics. Mounted on cradled panel, without the distraction of glass traditionally used in the presentation of photography, MacLaren’s work also occupies an in-between space, but in a unique manner. “The instantaneously captured image becomes as interesting and relevant as the initially intended destination,” he says. Or, maybe the journey is the destination after all.


Santa Fe-based ceramicist Jarrett West is known locally for his beautiful, functional pottery. With this exhibition, he debuts an astonishing new body of sculpture. Part iconic Easter Island presence, and part Zen stone-stacking along a river bank, these sculptures live on the tipping point between timeless and contemporary. The rich, patinated glazes look old and sometimes weathered, but the shapes, and the way they often interlock, are new–even while referencing indigenous artifacts. At six feet eight inches in height, ‘Iron Red Tomahawks’ is a presence felt by the body, while the mind works to recognize what is being encountered and to attach the object to memory. West’s shapes are based on “ancient objects of utility and function,” he says, that “invite the contemplation of the historical object as an abstract form.” The large sculptures are high-fired ceramics, able to endure weather extremes, and beautifully installed in indoor as well as outdoor locations. “The large scale of my work is the result of wanting the pieces to interact with their surroundings,” says West. This interaction engenders a consideration of the historical relevance of the forms and their journey from archeological object to abstract sculpture.

Brian Arthur’s ‘Southwest Abstractions’ take a more direct route. Arthur is a native New Mexican who holds a BFA from The College of Santa Fe (now Santa Fe University of Art and Design). Arthur says the southern Sange de Cristo Mountains have become his “home away from home. It is my desire to translate my experiences in nature into artwork that pays homage to the rich tapestry of this forest.” To that end, Arthur uses bark from fallen fir trees. Using a Japanese saw, he removes thin layers of bark, abstracting and simplifying the forms to enhance and emphasize the rich texture of the bark. For this exhibition, Arthur has created both wall-mounted and free-standing sculpture. “The juxtaposition of illusion and texture embodies my experiences in the forest,” he says.