Visual Artist: Woody Gwyn
Studio visit video by Artisan
Bio: from lewallencontemporary.com
One of America’s foremost contemporary landscape painters, Woody Gwyn captures the crystalline light and vast expanses of our changing American terrain. His work is characterized by dramatic angles, panoramic formats, startling color, aggressive cropping, and an acute contrast between the natural and manmade. Whether depicting monumental Western mesas, tranquil wooded clearings, or shimmering oceanic expanses, the results shatter conventions to offer new ways of seeing a world he reveres. Disarmingly humble, and averse to any theorization that privileges the mind over the eye, Gwyn extols finding truth and beauty “in the way things are.” Few other painters depict it so clearly.
As landscape painting marks the state of our conception of nature, Gwyn familiarizes us to shifts in our contemporary vision. The breadth of his strikingly horizontal panoramas invokes both the proportions and the extended temporal involvement inherent to cinema as they slowly lead the eye through sensuous ribbons of scenery that resist immediate comprehensibility. His frequently downward-canted, aerial views reveal a land we’ve come to better understand through the technologies of aerial photography and satellite surveillance – an Earth equally expanded and neutralized by distance.
Departing from the increasingly conceptual protocols of contemporary art, Gwyn emphasizes that landscape is not merely a construct shaped by human ideologies and cultural policies—that, in fact, it continuously moves and shapes us. The vast horizontal formats of his recent canvases, which measure up to 16-feet in length, encourage the active physical engagement of their audience.
Mirroring the experience of encountering the overwhelming views they depict, it is impossible to perceive the entirety of these intricately detailed paintings in a single glance. They invite us to traverse their lengths, stopping often to experience the full wealth of their sensory information. Gwyn’s art embraces landscape as something greater than us; the spaces it depicts are at once the subjects of abstract contemplations and, like our bodies themselves, the very framework of our complex material reality.
Moreover, Gwyn shows us a world that needs art more than ever before: for it is only through the palpable and sustained physical involvement of the artist’s hand that we can re-humanize a new sense of space: a frontier that would remain remote without the confirmed and sensitized presence of shared human experience. Confronting the fragmentation that defines our era while eschewing the conventions that defined the past, he offers painstakingly rendered perceptions of nature’s grandeur that are both epic and uniquely true to our times.
Woody Gwyn was born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1944, and received his arts education from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before returning to immerse himself in the western landscape. Since moving to New Mexico in 1974, Gwyn has found a supportive community of fellow artists and friends who share his passion for the boundless inspiration of the region’s terrain. Since his first exhibition in 1965, Gwyn has shown his paintings extensively locally, nationally and internationally. His work is included in the permanent collections of public institutions including the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe, the Albuquerque Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Denver Art Museum, and numerous other museums and private collections. In addition to having been acquired by these significant collections, his art has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in a wide array of premier national and international museums including the Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel; le Centre Nationale des Arts Plastiques, Paris, France; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of George Washington University, Washington, DC; as well as numerous other institutions. His monograph, Woody Gwyn, produced by Texas Tech University Press, records the artist’s unique contributions to contemporary landscape painting.
Reflecting his considerable lifetime achievement to the arts, Woody Gwyn is the recipient of the 2010 New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts – the state’s highest artistic honor. In support of his nomination for this important accolade, art historian Sharyn R. Udall has written, “Like the earth’s surface, each mind has its own topography; Woody Gwyn’s is open, fluid, expansive, like his canvases. Disguised in the persuasive truth-telling of realism, his paintings invite us to explore realms where nature and culture test mysterious new affinities.”
Singer Songwriter: Sydney Westan
Singer/Songwriter, Sydney Westan, is committed to all original works of Country, Blues, Folk, Americana and Western music. His songs are crafted into heartfelt ballads, intriguing love songs, bluesy shuffles and some ‘just-for-fun’ songs.
Sydney has studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA., and has been writing songs, lyrics and poetry since the ‘60’s. He has performed in the Santa Fe/Taos area for over a decade now.
His shows blend dynamic acoustic/electric guitar playing with varied vocals, from a deep country growl to smooth tenor and lively falsetto
He wears a heart on his sleeve, bears his soul in his lyrics and leaves you with a song to remember, so please,
“Don’t just come to hear some music! Come to listen to the song!!”