Although they often are, artworks don’t have to be static.
Never mind that it was published: F. Scott Fitzgerald continued to rework his masterpiece, “Tender is the Night.” Musician Leonard Cohen wrote some 80 verses for his seminal composition, “Hallelujah”.
“To find that song, that urgent song, it takes a lot of versions, a lot of hard work and a lot of sweat,” Cohen said.
Tellurid artist Daniel Kanow can probably relate. Kanow’s show at 610 Arts Collective, Ridgway is both new and old.
This is a new venue for Kanow: although he has exhibited his work at Telluride for years, this is his first exhibition at Ridgway.
On the other hand, some of these coins have appeared before, in different incarnations.
“There are newer and older works here. Touching up and making subtle changes to some of these paintings was a really exciting process,” Kanow said. “I think it’s common for artists. It depends on how you relate to the commodification of this piece” (once it is sold, your opportunity to refine it is gone). “There are artists throughout history who have thrown away their work or changed it,” Kanow pointed out, “or burned it.” (Indeed, flames may be part of the process: the sculptures at the Telluride Fire Festival are specially designed to be incinerated.)
Kanow’s exhibition at Ridgway is titled “The Imagined Landscape.: Brilliantly coloured, multi-layered and richly textured, the works evoke the intense and dramatic landscapes of the San Juans. Yet they are only a starting point: these perspectives are at least as much grounded in “history and experience,” as Kanow puts it in his introduction to the show, as they are in literal location.
Likewise, the titles of these works are multi-layered: the phrase “Ajax Gold,” for example, a 6-by-4-foot landscape that includes the iconic 12,785-foot peak visible from Telluride’s main street, is not not simply a reference to autumnal light on local peaks.
“The definition of the title ‘Ajax Gold’ is tied to the history of these mountains,” Kanow said. “Hundreds of millions of dollars have come out of the mines located here. And the Telluride Valley, a glacial valley, could represent a “golden” trip for some people to one of the most beautiful places in the world. When you live in such a place,” Kanow added wryly, “you tend to take its beauty for granted. The challenge for me” is indeed to imagine (or re-imagine) the landscape, “to integrate the experiences I have had and the places I have traveled and the gratitude I feel” into new and existing. Over the years, “Ajax Gold” has changed: “It started out as an acrylic painting, painted on the spot, and turned into an oil painting once I brought it into the studio”, Kanow said. “I continually refined it. I would show it, bring it home, and rework it.
The artist is both student and teacher. “I’m still learning and still offering my services to other artists,” Kanow said. He studied with local painter Robert Weatherford and apprenticed for years with Taos sculptor Ted Egri. He was the director of visual arts at Telluride Mountain School, “and I’m creating a coaching program, Break Through Your Art,” Kanow said (read more at breakthroughyourart.com). Alongside this exhibition, which runs until the end of this month, Kanow will instruct a class with the same title as this show. “Students will work intuitively to create an abstract landscape that tells a narrative story. Participants should arrive in class with pictures of personal landscapes, at least one personal sacred object, and a journal,” the description read. A “landscape” need not be a literal landscape, in other words, it can be a metaphorical canvas. Or, it could be something more: the artwork “Mountain Love,” the first image you see upon entering the 610 Gallery, “still has such power to me,” Kanow remarked. “It was a good course of action for my life experience. I started working on it 10 years ago, and I’ve been through a lot of transformations in my own life, with my family and in other ways, over the last decade. The bottom of the canvas is a riot of wild flowers: a symbolic bouquet, perhaps, of the poignancy of impermanence – and the gift of gratitude.
“I’m past my 30s and entering my 50s, all in this one chart,” Kanow said.
“The Imaginative Landscape,” a combination of large- and small-scale oil and acrylic originals as well as prints on canvas, acrylic, and paper, is on display Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to March 30 at 610 Arts Collective, Ridway. Kanow’s Landscape Painting Class at the Sherbino Theater will take place March 23 from 5:30-9 p.m. To see more of his work, visit DanielKanowFineArt.com.