By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — Art inspired by the landscape of Anderson has found a new home after prominently hanging in the prestigious 21st Annual Coors Western Art Exhibition & Sale in Denver, Colo. Several oil paintings fashioned by local artist David Michael Slonim were sold, including one for $9,500.
“This is the first introduction of my new Woodlands series,” said Slonim. “These are abstract interpretations of the woods in the Anderson area. They are poems about nature instead of an attempt to represent nature. To have the work received so positively in a national venue is very encouraging.”
While Slonim has been a successful artist and children’s book author/illustrator for many years, abstract work is new to him.
“I’ve been taking photos of forests and the woods with my digital camera for 15 years,” he added. “All along the way I’ve been studying abstract art and impressionism. In 2013 I made a firm commitment and chose to paint that way.”
That commitment paid off first as he thoroughly enjoyed his work and later as it was well-received by the art community.
“David’s work is based on the landscape but it stands out because it is simplified,” said Rose Fredrick, curator of the exhibit. “It is an expressionistic look at the landscape -- the essence of the land instead of a specific spot.”
The small show only invites 62 artists from North America and Europe while similar shows feature 80 to 100. Simply receiving an invitation to such an event is an honor.
“I’m looking for artists that capture western lifestyle,” said Fredrick. “I also want a very individual voice – work that doesn’t look similar to that of others.”
Slonim’s work was the most abstract in the show. Most paintings were representational or realist.
In the past, he has been invited to display pieces in Great American Artists, The C.M. Russell Auction, The Western Rendezvous of Art, The Western Miniatures Show at the C.M. Russell Museum and the Rising Stars exhibit at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. Solo exhibitions have been staged at the Richmond Art Museum, Minnetrista Cultural Center and Anderson Center for the Arts.
“I know what it is to feel insecure when attending a show, but this year I didn’t because I love the work,” said Slonim. “When looking at a painting, the audience can sense whether the artist is having fun and experimenting or he is creating another cookie-cutter painting.”
The Coors Western Art Exhibit was open in January in conjunction with the National Western Stock Show and Rodeo. More than 35,000 visitors enjoyed the event, offering Slonim a good deal of exposure. An artist he had never met recommended his work to the director of the show in 2011, which has led to his participation in the exhibit for three consecutive years.
“I’ve been showing my paintings out west since 1998,” said Slonim. “One connection led to another and I kept putting the worms where the fish were biting.”
Visions West Galleries, three galleries located in Colorado and Montana, began representing Slonim last year. They stage shows for him, keep some of his pieces on display in the galleries, champion his work and help sell it.
“We focus on contemporary naturalism,” said Nikki Todd, owner and director. “Most of our work is not traditional. David really fits in because he uses nature for inspiration and is terrific at it. He has gone in a very abstract direction and evokes the sense of nature. What I love about David’s paintings is that there is hint of natural world within his work.”
While he is happy about the praise his new avenue of work is bringing, he is even more pleased to fall in love with his occupation all over again.
“I am more excited about painting now than ever,” he said. “I am excited on Monday morning to get up and go to work. That hasn’t happened in a long time. I have more ideas than I have time to paint. I can’t stop the ideas from bursting out of me.”
Spring semester art classes with Slonim begin in March and continue every other week. Designed for adults or highly-motivated teenagers, this course is not for beginners. More information is available at www.davidslonim.com.
For more information about Slonim’s oil paintings, visit davidmichaelslonim.com.