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‘The Ever-Evolving West: The Old and the New at Mountain Trails Gallery

Katie by George Molnar, 8 x 11 oil

Katie by George Molnar, 8 x 11 oil

Originally Published: April 1, 2019 12:27 p.m.

For more than 30 years, artists at Mountain Trails Gallery in Tlaquepaque have been inspired by the history and legends of the Old West.

As the gallery continues the tradition of offering paintings and sculpture featuring historical narratives, Western artifacts and cultural objects, along with the men and women who are legendary, it also looks ahead to include artists who work with new materials and ways to express these timeless subjects.

Mountain Trails Gallery presents new paintings by contemporary artist Michelle Condrat, whose intensified color, broad-blended strokes and love of geometry creates an illusion of movement in her landscapes.

Michelle’s love of the outdoors, especially the Grand Canyon, is expressed in her newly arrived body of work. Her unique style has been called pixelated impressionism, along with references to cubism, and even video-game art.

The artist wants to give viewers a feeling of movement. Condrat says, “When we are outdoors in nature, trees, clouds, and water are in constant motion. I love to convey that nature is alive and my paintings are alive!”

Contemporary painter David Jonason simplifies shapes and intensifies color in his bold desert landscapes. His synthesis of a number of 20th century art movements has resulted in his own style which he refers to as a kind of cubist impressionism.

Also Marcia Molnar walks on the edge between traditional and contemporary in her electric landscapes of this region. In addition to a careful attention to balance using geometry, Marcia brings the changing light and color of the desert to a luminous, charged visual.

Captivating colored pencil wildlife paintings by Sandra Passmore Byland grace the gallery with their intriguing surfaces, detailed fine texture, and awe inspiring technique. Her newest work “Listening” of a regal, refined Arabian reveals the artist’s love of horses, one of her favorite subjects to paint.

Byland’s works on paper are sealed with her own process to forgo glass or plexi. Also equine work by contemporary sculptor and blacksmith artist Holly Fisher speaks to the essence of a subject with her spirited horses. The form of a favorite horse is suggested in the action and movement of the forged steel cantilevered figures.

New at Mountain Trails Gallery is fine art furniture by Confederated Tribes of the Coleville Nation member Percy Edwards which feature black acacia wood, rosewood and metal with insets of turquoise and copper. Edwards is most known for his remarkable Pow Wow dancing, wearing his own hand created regalia.

Also featured for April is outstanding work by a group of gallery artists including Vicki Catapano who is captivated by Native American traditions.

She is recognized for her paintings of Percy Edwards, also known as “Warcloud,” as well as other Pow Wow dancers from a variety of tribes across North America.

Also new mini paintings by wildlife artist Jennifer O’Cualain brings more of her favorite subjects to the exhibition. Her detailed “Bee Nimble” and “Bee Quick” are all done in her unique hand created frames which become an important part of the presentation. As a special feature, O’Cualain will be painting in the gallery throughout the day on Friday, April 5, from noon to 8 pm.

Mountain Trails Gallery also presents Susan Kliewer’s most recent sculpture “The Puppy Wrangler” now in bronze. The inspiration for this sculpture came from a delightful young rancher who had a bounty of furry border collie puppies. A special guest who could possibly make an appearance during the First Friday reception is Susan’s friend “Poncho” who came from this remarkable litter. Kliewer has been artist in residence at the gallery for more than 25 years.

Traditional Western portraits with a twist by George Molnar express the confidence of a masterful painter in his oil on board cowgirl paintings. His newest work “Katie” perfectly startles with her defiant attitude, and at the same time, a delicate poetry emerges of luminous colors in life-like fashion that make us want to know her.  Also outstanding for the exhibition is a group of realistic paintings with historical narratives by Lisa Danielle. Her remarkable skill in capturing objects so seemingly real that one could touch them is highlighted in “Intertwined Traditions,” a Pueblo pot on top of a Spanish Colonial chest, both richly patinaed with age and history.

From its legacy of traditional subjects and styles to contemporary interpretations of the West, the gallery offers a varied selection of paintings, sculpture, jewelry, mixed media objects, as well as fine art furniture by more than 50 award-winning artists, from smaller works of art to larger than life-size sculpture. A reception for the opening of “The Ever-Evolving West: The Old and the New” takes place on First Friday, April 5, from 5-8 pm. Mountain Trails Gallery in Tlaquepaque, upstairs, Suite A201 overlooking the Patio de las Campanas, 336 SR 179, Sedona, AZ 86336. mountaintrailssedona.com