Main Street pop-up gallery ventures into ‘The Last of the Old West’
Exhibit open through March
Visual artist Connor Liljestrom wants to introduce local art lovers to “The Last of the Old West,” a new exhibit inspired by everything from the Grand Tetons and Hollywood, to natural and Western Art history.
The exhibit is now showcasing at the New West Fine Art pop-up, which is located at 625 Main St.
While Liljestrom doesn’t consider himself a cowboy, or identify with that type of figure, he was born and raised in Jackson, Wyoming, which gave him a level of content that informs his work.
“My grandpa ranches, and he’s a roper, and I grew up in this landscape,” he said. “So my creative process is seen through the filter of the entertainment or work we had to do.”
From an early age, Liljestrom enjoyed creating art.
“There’s an aspect of art that is just the way I experience life,” he said. “I’m always trying to figure out how I could paint everything I see, places I go, things that I experience, settings I’ve been in and stories that I’ve heard. Everything kind of gets stored in a database in my brain that I paint from.”
Still, the images in Liljestrom’s mind change once he begins the creative process.
“The way things start for me is when I have something in my head that I want to paint,” he said. “From there, the painting informs itself, and the decisions I make from the first mark dictates what I will do next. So the painting never becomes what the initial thought was.”
This process follows a theory the artist learned in art school.
“There are many decisions that are appropriate when you begin that will take the piece in different directions,” he said. “The more decisions you make, the fewer decisions remain to keep the painting on a certain path. So it comes down to the point where one decision can and will change the whole piece and forces you to go a different direction.”
Realizing when a painting is done is a simple process for Liljestrom.
“A piece can be painted forever, and I’ve painted one piece for years,” he said. “But I think what it ultimately comes down to is an appropriate stopping point. It’s usually where I get to a place where the painting isn’t asking for anything else. It feels settled, and if I do anything else, I will have to continue down a different path until it feels settled again.”
Showing his work completes the creative process cycle, Liljestrom said.
“There is the actuality of creating the thing, but it’s the reception of what you create, regardless if it’s visual art, music, dance or culinary arts, that is also an important part of what you do.”
Liljestrom’s choice of medium is oil or an oil-mix.
“I really learned how to oil paint in college, and having that be what the painting curriculum was taught, I became more aware of how to manipulate that medium more than others,” he said. “Although I had done one oil painting in high school, it became clear to me what the potiental was for the output of oil. Seeing works introduced to me by my professors convinced me that there were some amazing potentials of using that medium.”
Liljestrom also credits his parents for helping him choose his career.
“When I went to college, I didn’t go for visual art, and I basically spent my first year not wanting to go to class and wondering why I was there,” he said. “I finally committed to art through the advice of my folks who asked, ‘Money aside, what do you want to do?’”
Although his parents knew Liljestrom wanted to pursue art, they did warn him about the challenges he would face.
“They told me that I needed to understand that there would be things that could be uncomfortable for me, but I had it fresh in my mind what it was like to do something I didn’t enjoy,” he said. “So, that made it seem like it would be worth it to do what I wanted to do.”
Starting a new major in his junior year was a satisfying move.
“It was a complete change that I saw in my desire and commitment to the subject matter,” he said. “It provided a calm confidence regarding the future of my life. And every decision I made in school is based on that decision. So, from the day I graduated college, I have been a professional artist.”
Liljestrom is grateful he can show his works in Park City.
“It’s a place that has prior knowledge and recognition of the icons and subject matter I deal with,” he said. “Among different communities, I feel places like Park City can appreciate some of the stories I’m trying to tell.”
When: 10 a.m.0-6 p.m., Mondays, Thursdays-Sundays through March
Where: New West Fine Art pop-up, 625 Main St.
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