The Sun Valley Center for the Arts continues to bring exciting exhibitions to its new facility in Hailey, especially when it comes to people with connections to the valley. Last year saw a photography exhibition of wild horses by Hailey resident Elissa Kline. Now, the work of Aaron Pearson, a Wood River Valley-raised painter, will be featured at the gallery.
Pearson will show abstract paintings, a series of which were inspired by the Big Lost River and the Wood River Valley.
A Dartmouth University graduate with a degree in studio art, Pearson grew up next door to his grandparents Bob and Betsy Pearson.
"My grandmother is a painter," he said, from his home in San Diego. "Her paintings are the first that I really remember."
After graduation from Dartmouth, Pearson was honored with a cash prize and an exhibition at the Hopkins Center. He moved to New York City in August 2001, and to San Diego two years later. Around that time, he became disillusioned with the emptiness he was finding in abstract art.
"The last two years I've gotten my life around to where I can paint," he said. "Before, my work was based more in history and abstractions. My newer work is still abstract but trying to touch on something that has a kernel of truth for me personally, which goes straight back to Idaho."
It was this work that appealed to Courtney Gilbert, The Center's visual arts director.
"We recently decided to broaden our mission in Hailey to include exhibitions focusing on the work of emerging regional artists like Aaron Pearson," she said. "As soon as I saw his paintings I was drawn to them because they are both evocative of the landscape that surrounds us here and universal in their representation of natural forms."
Pearson is equally enthusiastic about showing in Sun Valley.
"The work makes so much sense there," he said. "I started to work on these hardwood pieces. I like the weight of the wood. It's so dense and solid. It's like a contrast backdrop that reminds me of photographs of my brother and me when we were younger against this wood background. It becomes an object as well, which I like."
Pearson said his work deals also with "the paradoxes inherent to human memory in relation to the present."
"The bulk of my current work is divided into two series. The smaller pieces on hardwood borrow from the figurative tradition of religious icon painting. In the place of the codified representations of saints and virgins, I depict figures in thinly applied layers of viscous oil paint. Through the lens of time, the 'icons' of my past become the faceless, silhouetted ghosts of my present."
Pearson will be present for the opening, 5:30 to 7 p.m., Friday, June 1, at The Center, Hailey at Second Avenue and Pine Street. The exhibition will remain up through Aug. 3.