Park City enthusiasts can view artist’s ‘Remnants’ during gallery stroll
An artist reception for figurative artist Mary Sauer will run from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, July 27, at Meyer Gallery, 305 Main St. The event, which celebrates Sauer’s solo exhibit “Remnants,” is free and open to the public. For information, visit http://www.meyergallery.com.
Mary Sauer has created a career with subtle defiances.
The painter, whose new solo exhibit “Remnants” will open Friday during the Park City Gallery Association’s monthly gallery stroll at Meyer Gallery, was continually told by her art professors that she couldn’t make a living selling portraits or figurative paintings that were inspired by Renaissance and Impressionist masters.
“It felt like the teachers regarded the more classically painted subject matter that I liked were something of the past,” Sauer said. “They made it feel like the classical figurative works were holding modern art back in a lot of ways.”
Today, her portraits and figurative works sell between $3,000 and $12,000 each, which makes her even more happy she fell in love with the figurative painters.
“When I was a child, I wasn’t super excited about the modern art,” Sauer said. “The subject matter that I do today shows things that I have always been interested in, but told that I couldn’t do by my teachers.”
The other element of her works that goes against the grain is her bright color palette.
“One of the things that modern art has attacked in figurative art is the concept of beauty, and that includes colors,” said Sauer, who worked as a studio apprentice for artist Jeff Koons in New York for three years. “Colors are important to me. I use colors that have a pleasing and cooperative palette that work together in harmony.”
To do this, the artist manipulates the colors so they aren’t exactly what can be seen in real life. “Some of the colors are more exaggerated,” she said. “This is a way I can find what colors are more pleasing than others, and that’s another stand of defiance for me.”
“Remnants” will feature 20 paintings and three drawings. All but one of the works were created within the past year.
“I’m usually drawn to a figure within a work, but several of my paintings in this show actually takes the figure out of the composition,” she said. “Some of the paintings are just interior scenes.”
Sauer’s go-to tool is oil.
“I like when I put the mark down it doesn’t dry for a while, so I can keep working it,” she said. “Before I did oils, I spent a lot of time working with acrylics, but they would dry quickly. So working with oils has been liberating.”
When Sauer starts working on a piece, she starts with an overall composite that usually starts with sketches or photographs.
“With the photographs, I’ll manipulate them in Photoshop and change the overall design of the scene and how things fit within the image,” she said.
Sauer is fascinated with the contrasts she can create in a painting.
“I love working with different colors and skin tones,” she said. “I like the effects of warm versus cool light and how they hit different objects.”
While working on her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Utah, Sauer spent time developing the idea of how the portrait became a tool of display and showed vulnerability of the subject by painting scenes that weren’t perfectly composed.
“I would use the concept of dressing up and examine how we portray ourselves on social media, and then I would incorporate how we use the idea of a store,” she said. “There is a painting in the show that is a self portrait that I posed myself in front of objects that are in an antique store, and I took this idea of what are we comfortable with other people seeing versus who we actually are.”
The artist instinctively knows when a painting is done, but that doesn’t mean the work is actually finished.
“I know it’s time to stop when one more stroke will start to mess with the composition,” Sauer said. “I like to leave my paintings a little unfinished in some places and more finished in others. It’s about taking the higher finish to the places that are more interesting in a composition. It’s more important to have an interesting brush stroke somewhere rather than paint every little detail that I see.”
Sauer’s love for classical figurative paintings developed when she was a child in the rural South.
“I would look at paintings in books and thought they were the most wonderful things in the whole world,” she said. “I grew up in a small town in Kentucky and there wasn’t much to do. But my mom would take me to the library, and I would go to the art section and look at the books.”
Sauer has such a strong love for art that even if she never made a penny, she would still be a painter.
“I get a deep satisfaction from creating something,” she said. “I enjoy the process of working with the colors and making the marks of the brushstrokes on the canvas. And I like how it starts as a loose abstract and then comes together and builds into something that is alive.”
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Jonathan Kolon will honor Park City and mark the trials the country has gone through with COVID-19 when he releases his new song “This Highway Ends” on April 30.