St. George Art Museum: Erin Hanson's Painted Parks (Opening Events)
January 15th & 16th, 2016
2016 marks the National Park Service's 100th year anniversary! The St. George Art Museum will be kicking off the centennial with Erin Hanson's Painted Parks, an expansive exhibit of Hanson's colorful, contemporary impressionistic landscapes of our National Parks.
- You can meet the artist on opening day, on January 16th, from 10am to 5pm!
- There will be a special member's-only preview on January 15th, between 6-8pm. Please contact Amy for tickets: email@example.com.
- The exhibit will be hanging from January 16th until May 28th, 2016.
If you would like to be mailed a printed catalog of the exhibit, please contact us.
St. George Art Museum
200 North 47 East
St. George, UT 84770
On January 16, the St. George Museum of Art unveils a solo exhibition of 35 works by California artist Erin Hanson entitled Painted Parks, which is part of a yearlong series of juried art shows celebrating the National Park Service Centennial. The show opens with a private artist’s reception for museum members and invited patrons on Friday, January 15, and then to the general public on Saturday. Hanson is present for events on both days.
About the Paintings
by Erin Hanson
This collection of National Park paintings has been in the process of creation since I was a young girl growing up in Los Angeles. When I was a child, I would look forward eagerly every year to escaping the ordinary routine of city life and having the opportunity to explore the great outdoors. I remember laying on my back under these impossibly tall pine trees, after hiking all day to reach a forested peak in the Angeles Crest National Forest. All I could hear was the surprisingly loud and changing melody of the wind moving through the pine boughs. I was only one day away from my concrete-lined home life, but it felt like an entirely different world.
The National Parks and other protected lands have been a source of artistic inspiration for me ever since. I have always considered landscapes to be the most beautiful thing I could paint, from stark mountain peaks to dramatic canyons to sunlight glittering through trees. Exploring these landscapes for a few days’ backpacking or camping trip would be something I would plan for months in advance, and as soon as it was over I would eagerly begin planning the next escape. I have always enjoyed the physical exertion that let me attain amazing mountain heights and views that only the most adventurous could achieve. After college, I began rock climbing in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, and I became inspired anew to pursue a career as an artist. I wanted others to experience the magic I felt from these dramatic landscapes.
When I was invited to show my paintings at the St George Art Museum, I was delighted at the opportunity to share with the world my vision of the National Parks, up close and personal. I love the intense, saturated colors I see at dawn and sunset, so many of my paintings are re-imagined creations of those times of the day. I use vivid colors to excite the imagination and allow viewers to explore their own experiences and dreams of the wide outdoors. My thick, chunky style of laying on paint strokes has an impressionistic feel that makes you want to reach out and touch the canvas. I want my paintings to be as alive and vibrant as the scenery that inspired them.
This collection of oil paintings is drawn exclusively from rock climbing, hiking, and backpacking trips I have done throughout the Western states. I plan several trips every year to explore and re-explore my favorite parks, including Joshua Tree, Zion, Bryce, Cedar Breaks, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, Arches, Canyonlands, and all the beautiful Parks in between. No matter how many times I have been to a park, when I wake up in the campground or in a bivy sack in a backcountry camping spot, I feel a complete sense of joy and overwhelming awe of my surroundings. I get back from each trip with thousands of photos that I use to try to re-capture these moments of peace and beauty on the canvas.
I am always amazed to see how the National Park Service maintains the trails in the little-traveled lands I love to hike. I marvel at the way the earth is cut and fortified to create an easy-to-walk path. I especially like the way artistic boulders and fallen tree trunks are used to build up and protect the hiking trails, complementing the natural beauty surrounding the trail. The trails have minimal impact on the environment, while making it safe for thousands of people to travel through these parks every year.
I recently did an amazing 50-mile backpacking trip from Kolob Canyon to the East Gate of Zion National Park. On the last leg of the journey, day five, our trail cut through these incredibly steep cliffs, the switchbacks sometimes only a few feet wide. It snowed on us for most of the day, and during the hike all I could see was the beautifully cut staircase trail along the cliff wall before me, covered in snow. I felt completely safe and secure hiking in these icy and slippery conditions, with full faith in those who built and continued to preserve the trail. This part of the hike inspired the painting First Snow, included in this collection.
I will continue to paint the National Parks for the rest of my life, and I hope my paintings inspire you to visit your favorite Park this year.
Erin Hanson began painting as a young girl, voraciously learning oils, acrylics, watercolor, pen and ink, pastels, and life drawing from accomplished art instructors. She began commissioning paintings at age ten, and by age twelve, she was employed after school by a mural studio, learning the techniques of acrylics on the grand scale of forty-foot canvases. Two years later, a high school scholarship took her to Otis College of Art, where she immersed herself in figure drawing. Graduating high school at age sixteen and once again demonstrating that she was a child prodigy, Hanson next attended UC Berkeley, excelling further in her studies and creative development and attaining a degree in Bioengineering.
After graduating from college, Hanson entered the art trade as a professional, inspired by landscapes and vantage points only beheld by the most adventurous. Rock climbing among the brilliantly colored cliffs of Nevada and Utah, watching the seasons and the light change daily across the desert, provided endless inspiration for her work. In these beautiful surroundings, Hanson decided firmly to dedicate herself to creating one painting every week for the rest of her life. She has stuck to that decision ever since and has for the past decade been developing a unique, minimalist technique of placing impasto paint strokes without layering, which has become known as “Open-Impressionism.” As other artists began emulating her painting techniques, Hanson was credited as the pioneer and originator of this contemporary style.
Through the years, Hanson has continued to use the outdoors to inspire a huge collection of work. She visits the Colorado plateau every year, backpacking and hiking through areas such as Zion National Park, Canyon de Chelly, and Monument Valley. Other favorite haunts include Paso Robles, Joshua Tree National Park, and the Anza-Borrego desert. Erin Hanson transforms these landscapes into abstract mosaics of color and texture, her impasto application of paint lending a sculptural effect to her art. Her oil paintings stand out in a crowd, bringing a fresh new look to Western landscapes.