JACKSON, Wyo. — Travis Walker and Geoffrey Gersten excavate the layers that have built up to form contemporary Western psyches. They set scenes, cast familiar characters, and then let the plots unfold in viewers’ imaginations. Here, they discuss the questions and observations coursing through their new paintings currently on exhibit at Altamira Fine Art.
“I speak for the everyday person: our experiences as humans have been filtered through popular culture. I’m trying to reference these scenes we’ve all observed. Sometimes, the stories I paint need to be told but don’t necessarily have perfect endings,” Walker said.
“We as humans have turned the West into an amusement park. We treat these incredible natural places as trampolines for our Instagram accounts, for getting people to like us.”
“My paintings are like musical covers—reinterpretations that reinvent the original compositions. I’m splicing chapters from own life with movie scenes and historic paintings. I see this as the role of the artist. I don’t know the answers to the questions I’m asking. I like people’s interpretations of the paintings—that’s how they are finished.”
“Why does the cowboy icon continue to be so appealing? Why does he remain so broadly captivating? There have been several moments in the lead up to this show that have offered me spontaneous insight: While working on a large composition of a cowboy, I printed out a photo of the underpainting at FedEx—a step I sometimes takes to gain visual perspective. Upon seeing the image—a brown wash of a silhouette—the clerk shared that his father had just passed away and left him his jacket—an authentic Marlboro Man-brand shearling from the sixties. He smiled as he shared stories of the heirloom. It was an odd moment of connection that intensified when I re-turned to my studio and found the painting changed: a droplet of paint had dried in the shape of a teardrop cascading from the rugged face. Weeks later, while moving with my new Maltipoo puppy, I unpacked a wide-format art magazine, and my puppy promptly began tugging on it, tearing a page out. After a tussle, I recovered the stolen snippet and found it read ‘American Westerns’, the headline of an article exploring the layered resonance of the classic novel, Shane. Ergo the title of the show,” Gersten said.
Walker and Gersten will enjoy tandem exhibitions from Sept. 21 through Oct. 2 at Altamira Fine Art, with an Artists’ Reception held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25. For more information about each artist’s paintings and practice, please contact Altamira Fine Art by email— firstname.lastname@example.org—or phone—(307) 739-4700.