Keith Mayerson


Pleine Air Grand Canyon (Flag at Half Mast in honor of the recent Santa Fe High School shootings)


I love America, and one of the most magnificent sites of all of the United States is the Grand Canyon, a place we cherish that reminds us not only of our place within the world and of the Earth's history, but the fantastic possibilities of our great country in both times of strife and grandeur. The history of the Grand Canyon is vast, and our interactions as humans within it seem short compared to the largeness of its history, but after indigenous peoples populated the region, Western Europeans came to inhabit the place, both as explorers and discovers, but also as businessmen. I have a penchant for not only Cezanne, but the Hudson River School, and despite the egregious politics of Manifest Destiny, really enjoy how those painters depicted the landscapes of the United States, and also the Germans who came upon our shores, and more specifically related their foreign points of view to the Rockies and the West, romanticizing reality in their own way in paintings I grew up seeing at the Denver Art Museum.

This was from our recent trip for Andrew's birthday to the El Tovar at the Grand Canyon, where we were upgraded to the Presidential Suite and I painted this in "plein air". I have painted the Grand Canyon many times before, it is one of our most favorite places on earth. I had planned to create this in advance, however we couldn't expect that the school shootings in the El Paso TX, which happened right before we got there, the flag at half-mast in memorial to the young students who were killed. A bittersweet subliminity was in the air as I painted for a marathon of three days on this work, hopefully capturing the beauty of America, but also an encapsulation of our recent times. I also was thinking of course of the environment, and how we must do all we can to preserve and nourish our planet for survival, especially in this time of uncertain futures. As I paint, I allow my unconscious to spill out along with my conscious brush, and like Cézanne, have moments that project into subconscious dream worlds mapped along with representational realities of what I see, inspired by the meditation of painting. Hopefully this picture has much to offer in representing the landscapes, the sunset of the Grand Canyon, but also a melancholic, surreal edge of how close we are to the precipice of losing our national treasures of rich, nourished land and landscape.