Nostalgia is one of the most powerful sources of inspiration for artists. A case in point is about to be highlighted during a compelling solo exhibition in New York that merits a look.
Opening February 17 at the Millbrook Public Library in New York is a tantalizing solo exhibition of paintings by artist Jeffrey L. Neumann. The works on view will largely explore the artist’s nostalgia for his childhood in the 200-mile expanse between Roswell and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Discussing one work in particular — “Sands Motel” — Neumann says, “Vaughn, New Mexico, is halfway in the 200-mile expanse between Roswell and Albuquerque. When I was 10 and 11 we lived in Roswell. We would stop in Vaughn and have a bite to eat on family visits to my cousins in Albuquerque.
“I revisited Vaughn and shot the reference photos for this painting in 1991. The Sands Motel was defunct by that time. The neon was long gone and the sign was dark. I restored the neon in the painting. The sky is also more my invention than what was actually there.
“Like much of my work, this painting is steeped in memories of my childhood. My aim is to capture a feeling, to create a mood rather than replicating a scene precisely. Unlike most of my motel paintings, this one doesn’t have the actual motel as part of the subject. The signage, the broad landscape, and the sky were enough to tell the story. If you look closely you can see a ’62 Chevy in the middle distance and the Santa Fe Chief rolling across the plains. These are minor compositional elements, however they are important to the narrative of the piece.”
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