JACKSON, Wyo. — Adventure courses through the new canvases by Dennis Ziemienski, on display until July 2 at Altamira with an artist reception tomorrow, June 30 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Adventure as invitation and character profile
Ever inspired by vintage movie posters and advertising campaigns, Ziemienski imagines alluring scenes, compelled by action and set in Northwest Wyoming. “There are so many stories from this region—from Yellowstone and the Tetons to all of the dude ranches,” Ziemienski says. “There is a story behind each painting, however I don’t necessarily tell the story. I show it. I want people to enjoy the work with their own stories.”
By encouraging personal interpretations, Ziemienski makes the familiar iconography of his scenes feel as driven by present experience as they are past pictures. And his process too speaks to this blend of nostalgia and narrative.
The face of the female angler—smiling with her catch of the day—came from his grandmother’s collection of knitting catalogs from the 20s and 30s, the made-up models parading the patterns’ final results.
The cowboy charging across a river is his friend who reminds him of Steve McQueen, and generously sits for shoots in which Ziemienski clads him in cowboy garb.
The reflective cowgirl, pausing by a stream, is his daughter and frequent muse, having previously starred in the painting he made for the 2018 Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival poster; for this new painting, he worked from a picture taken on a trail ride through the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone and set her against the high desert formations he glimpsed en route from Zion to St. George and a bank of clouds he photographed in Arizona.
Drawing on his background as an illustrator, Ziemienski delights in constructing his compositions from such varied sources. “I used to tell my students at the California College of Arts and Crafts, when they would complain about painting as being difficult, ‘If you’re not having fun, don’t do it. Find your niche where you are having fun and it will radiate from the work.’”
Embodying this lesson, Ziemienski delights in his process—a passion palpable in his finished pieces. “I have a lot of wonderful pictures to work with,” he says. “I just love painting these scenes.”
The artist’s adventuresome scenes are on view from June 21 to July 2 at Altamira Fine Art.