Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Big artist comes to a small town

Pat Steir brings a waterfall of art to Ketchum

Express Staff Writer

Pat Steir paints on large canvases and is most known for her cascading, Zen-like waterfalls.

When collectors and art aficionados discuss Pat Steir, it is with great regard and respect. Steir's work spans over four decades, with solo exhibitions in prestigious museums such as the Galleria Nationale Moderne Borghese in Rome and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Her group exhibitions include shows such as "New York Renaissance: Masterworks of the Whitney Collection," at the Palazzo Reale in Rome, as well as "Drawing the Line Against AIDS," part of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. "Drawing the Line Against AIDS" was also under the aegis of the 45th Venice Biennale, and was reinstalled at the Guggenheim Museum Soho in New York City.

On Saturday, March 15, from 2:30-4:30 p.m., Steir will be present for her "Tyne Panorama" series exhibition and book signing for her latest book "Pat Steir and Art" at the Ochi Gallery in Ketchum.

"The work was done at a biannual in New Castle, England," Steir said. "The show went on for eight years."

Steir has been showing with the Ochi Gallery for many years and has very close ties to gallery owner Dennis Ochi. The "Tyne Panorama" series paintings at the Ochi Gallery were first exhibited in the early 1990s. The works are some of her most well-known waterfall images.

"The original show was built as a panorama with a tunnel underneath and you would come up into the light," Steir said. "It had blue lights so the water looked three-dimensional, and from upstairs you would look down at the waterfall. A ship builder built the structure."

Steir's style of poured painting is often compared to Jackson Pollack, only Steir has a Zen-like quality to her soft, cascading waterfalls. The five paintings on exhibit at the Ochi Gallery resemble a 1991 painting in the East Wing of the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., titled "Curtain Waterfall."

"I get inspired by color and light," Steir said. "I use painting as a jump to other artwork and history, and I feel that it is wonderful to be called an important artist of our time."

At 68 years old, Steir works on multiple paintings at once, which take anywhere from six months to a year to complete. In her new book, "Pat Steir paintings,"Steir said she did a great deal of exploration, and set some limitations for herself.

"I used to make big leaps," Steir said. "Now, it's more subtle. This new book has a bigger history than past books, and I designed it with my husband."

Steir adores Sun Valley and believes it is an important international destination with a very good art following. She referenced her barn in Stowe, Vt., as a similar place for peace and quiet to do work, though she distinguished Sun Valley as a much different environment.

"If I give advice to artists, it is to make art," Steir said. "Eating makes you hungry and work makes more work, and you can never have a block. You need to work."

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