Upcoming Exhibition: "Western Installation"

This spring is shaping up to be a busy one with exhibitions regionally.  The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center in Duncan, OK will host the exhibition "Western Installation: The Art of Jason Cytacki"  from March 21 - May 23rd.  If you are around Duncan, OK on March 21 from 4-6 p.m. stop by for the reception.  Tentatively I will be showing my series of paintings "Don't Look Back," as well as three large ink drawings that I am creating for the show.  Here is a sneak peak at one of them below.  

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Constructed Landscape: New Paintings

I present three new paintings in my constructed landscape series.  Below find the three new images as well as an artist statement that helps clarify my interest in the western landscape as well as my methodology of constructing dioramas:

Bear Lake, Oil on Panel, 24" x 18" 2013
Colorful Colorado, Oil on Panel, 18" x 24" 2013
 Weminuche,Oil on Panel, 36" x 48" 2013

Stemming from my interest in Western art is the tension between its representation as both myth and reality, reflected in its often-ambiguous relationship with authenticity.   While historically paintings of the American have claimed historical fidelity, they often feature many “improvements” fabricated by the artists including overtly theatrical lighting, adjustments to spatial relationships and the kind of things required to create a sublime image of the Western frontier suitable to satisfy their audience’s appetite back east.  The use of realism in these works authenticates that image of the West as the ‘real’ west.  By seeing the cracks in the cowboy’s face and the creases of the saddle, one finds the evidence to support the mythology.

In my paintings, I attempt to turn these strategies on their heads, utilizing realism for a much different goal.  By constructing miniature dioramas of western landscape out of cardboard and then meticulously rendering the minute details in oil paint I aim to subtly subvert the hallmarks of this genre.  By detailing even the creases and corrugation of the cardboard, I instead highlight the fabricated nature of these culturally constructed images, calling their ‘authenticity’ into question.

In addition, I employ the language of dioramas as a metaphor for our perception of the utopian western landscape. The idea of a diorama captures the essence of the divide between the imagined West and the actual West. Much like the grand picturesque landscape, a diorama was designed not to actually deceive the viewer so much as to offer a compelling substitute for the real world. With the mythological West, a certain degree of editing and omission occurs in order to portray a specific romanticized perspective, similarly, the diorama, too, shows a preference for the idealized image over a practical reality.  My dioramas do not attempt to create a seamless illusion, rather they emphasize and expose the artifice of the image, challenging the viewers perceptions about the West.

Landscape Drawings

Here are two Graphite pieces I have done for my upcoming exhibition at JRB Art at the Elms.  Both are based upon cardboard dioramas I constructed of Western landscapes.


Glacier Getaway, Graphite on Paper, 2013

Silverton, Graphite on Paper, 2013



Works on Paper: Cowboys

As noted in a previous post, I have been doing some work in water color over the last couple of months including these two portraits below.  I've also been working with ink again to produce some smaller scale, more intimate portraits of silver screen cowboys.  These works will be exhibited at the soon to be open Peachtree Gallery in Lubbock, TX.  The gallery opens its doors June 7th, so if you are in the area, check it out.  If not, take a look at their website, here.


 






Where the Buffalo Roam...

This is a new painting I've just finished.  I picked this little guy up at the gift shop of the Rockwell Museum over the summer and have been anxious to use him in a painting.  It's a small piece and was enjoyable to really get invested in some detail work like the curly fur.


Where the Buffalo RoamOil on Panel
11" x 14"
2012

Hi-Yo Silver

I've been working on this self-portrait for a while now.  I believe that it is done or at the very least almost done - perhaps a little more work on the shirt is in order still. 


Hi-Yo Silver
Oil on Panel
48" x 30"
2012


Watercolors, back in the studio, etc.

I've working with watercolors on and off again this fall, mostly in preparation for teaching it to my students.  Here are a few examples of the results.  I enjoy the directness of it and the quick drying time!

Also I just received my show back from the Rockwell Museum (minus the pieces that sold of course).  Anyone interested in a show, they are already crated and ready to go! With these low ceilings I just about tore the sprinkler system right from the ceiling.


OVAC 12 x 12 Fundraiser

I am pleased to be included in this year's 12 x 12 fundraiser to support the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition (OVAC).  Each of the 150 invited artists create a piece of art no larger than 12 x 12 inches.  My contribution is below:

OVAC is a great non-profit organization dedicated to supporting visual artists living and working in Oklahoma.   If you are interested in purchasing this painting, you will need to attend the fundraiser.  Information and links below!

Friday, Septermber 28, 2012
7:00 pm
50 Penn Place
1900 NW Expressway, OKC

Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door. 
More info here.

Rockwell Interview

The Rockwell Museum of Western Art has posted online the video interview I did for the exhibition "Enduring Legend, Fragile Myth." The excellent video production was handled by Beau Leland of Invisible Arts, who was a pleasure to work with.  

You can see the video on youtube here

The exhibition is on view through October 14th, so if you are in the area and have not seen it yet, there is still time!

Rockwell Installation Shots

The show has opened at the Rockwell and I have some installation shots to share.  Another quick thanks to James Peck and every else I worked with at the Rockwell.  Also a huge thanks to all those who came out to the opening and to hear my speak about my work.  I met so many wonderful people that evening and was blown away by how friendly and kind everyone I met was. 




Self Portrait

This is the newest and final piece completed for my solo show at the Rockwell Museum.  It is a self portrait split into two panels.  I'm really happy with how this piece turned out and I feel it marks a direction I am hoping to explore further.


Detail:


Crate Making

This past week I constructed my first crates.  The task turned out to be more challenging than anticipated as I had to build crates big enough to safely ship around 26 paintings and drawings - including my large (5' x 7') thesis paintings.

Thanks to some extremely helpful feedback by friends and colleagues I was able to hammer out some designs.  After a week of building I am happy to reveal that the crating was a success and furthermore they are currently on their way to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning New York. 

Check out some pics of the crates below!  Nothing more exciting than wooden boxes!





Pike's Peak

Another constructed landscape that I have been chipping away at for awhile.  The composition is derived from several postcards of Pike's Peak I found.  I remember driving to Colorado as a kid with my family and thinking how Pike's Peak always held a special significance.  I no doubt the phrase "Pike's Peak or Bust!" added an element of challenge and implied danger.

The painting itself is the first landscape I have done on panel.  The smooth surface allowed for the addition of many more details.  More to come!


"Pike's Peak"
Oil on panel
24" x 48"
2012


Monument Valley


I have been playing with some graphite drawings as of late.  This one is based on a photo I setup in my studio a while back - it is a cardboard recreation of the iconic Monument Valley.


"Monument Valley"
12" x 16"
Graphite on Paper
2012.

See the USA (revisited)

As part of preparing work for my upcoming solo show, I decided to revisit a painting that I had done a couple of years ago, "See the USA (from your Chevrolet).  This has been a challenging yet interesting process to revisit a painting from what seems like so long ago.  See the results below:


Rex Allen Drawing (in progress)

I've been working on a large drawing for my upcoming show at the Rockwell Museum of Western Art.  The subject of the drawing is the film cowboy Rex Allen rearing on his horse, Koko.  Should be finished in the next few days in time to ship!