Exhibition: Ben Steele, Open Spaces

Saturday, Feb 27, 2021 at 10:00am

Altamira Fine Art
7038 East Main Street
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

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Altamira Fine Art Scottsdale is pleased to present a new show for Ben Steele, Open Spaces.

Open Spaces

At the moment, with Covid-19 keeping public gatherings to a minimum and making us all feel cooped up at home, I think we now approach space as precious. Personally, the pandemic has made me realize what a gem the West is in terms of wide-open breathing room. This appreciation is leaking into my work, a sense of gratitude writ large in O’Keeffe Motel, a painting of a neon sign set in an isolated desert. The piece references Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic Evening Star, a work rich with simplicity and solitude. Inspired by such eloquent isolation, I liked the challenge of playfully juxtaposing a bold neon sign that still manages to advertise tranquility. To me, this painting evokes a sense of quiet vacancy and nostalgia.

O’Keeffe Motel began with an image of an old, seemingly abandoned motel sign in the middle of nowhere. The picture captivated me and reminded me of O’Keeffe and her love of the desolate West. As is my instinct, I layered her influence over the nostalgic image. I take pride in combining two things that seem discordant, things that seem like they won’t work together. A commercial sign doesn’t feel like it belongs in an otherwise unadulterated landscape; and yet, when presented well, I see beauty in the influence of man on nature. O’Keeffe Motel also allowed me to study light in multiple ways, with the fading shades of dusk contrasted by the heavy light saturation from the fragments of working neon.

Many of the pieces in this show layer spacious landscapes with Western themes and visuals as well as references to pop culture and art history—common threads in my work. The title of the show, Open Spaces, refers to the type of open thinking that I believe is essential to both making and viewing art.
Exhibition Date: February 15-27, 2021

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