Musings: The Soul Of Landscape
By Marie L. Monyak
April 10, 2006
Ketchikan, Alaska - "Musings: The Soul Of Landscape"
is a soothing display of the works of Ketchikan artist James
Mix. This past Friday was the opening reception for Mix at the
Mainstay Gallery where guests were treated to this Renaissance
mans interpretation of the nature that surrounds us daily.
Mixes' art is primarily executed by way of acrylic on canvas
and many of his works show his lack of fear in using bold colors.
Trees with Reeds is stunning in its simplicity and brightness.
Using bold strokes, in a linear fashion, Mix relates a certain
order in the subject matter.
Ketchikan artist James
Mix stands next to his work called Olney's House on Pennock
Photograph by Marie L. Monyak
In Mixes' biography provided by the gallery, it recorded six
years of military service in the U.S. Army. When I asked Mix
if he felt his military background influenced him in the orderliness
of some of his works, he replied, "I think all of your life's
experiences come in to play."
There's certainly been no lack of influence for Mix throughout
his life. Having lived in northern California, Utah and Ketchikan,
Mix has worked as a truck driver, coal miner and put in his time
at the Ketchikan Pulp Mill. His military service included a
tour in Vietnam in the mid sixties and a year stationed in Germany.
This imposing man that stands well over six feet has a gentler
and more pensive side that's reflected in his love of not only
painting, but photography, world music, history, poetry and literature.
In Magalia Redwoods, Mix is unflinching in his choice
of vivid colors. The palette he used transports the viewer to
the forest during a hot summer sunset just as the sun is casting
its last rays of bright reds and oranges. Mix conveys a great
deal of confidence in this piece.
When I commented on his strong use of color, Mix said, "Yes,
I'm influenced a great deal by Matisse, Van Gogh and Gauguin.
I studied art history a lot on my own." Mix doesn't hesitate
though to give credit to his high school art teacher Donald Maxwell
whom he said encouraged him to take art seriously and not just
as a hobby. "I'm doing something I love, so in a way it
is a hobby, it's a chance for me to express myself."
Moss Landing At Low
Tide by artist James Mix
Photograph by Marie L. Monyak
With Herring Cove Shed and Low Tide at Moss Landing,
Mix used much softer lines and more subtle colors that create
a genuine feeling of warmth. In discussing Herring Cove
Shed, Mix explained, "That old metal warehouse no
longer exists. One thing I like to do is document these old
buildings, I've photographed a lot of them." Had it not
been for Mix the visual history of the old building may have
been lost forever.
Although I encouraged him to select his favorite, I decided to
allow Mix to choose the painting he would pose next to for a
photograph. After some trepidation, Mix chose Olney's House
on Pennock, a wonderful study in color, shape and balance.
The shades of blue were stunning in their contrast and I asked
Mix about his choice.
"The building is actually grey but I decided on blue, I
like to experiment a lot. I learned something from Maxwell,"
referring to his high school art teacher, Mix continued, "he
taught me about repetition, you take the color and spread it
around, it makes a balance, it creates a unity in the composition."
Mix was certainly successful in this endeavor as he created
a clean, fresh feeling that makes one want to step right into
Mix may have mentioned his
early teacher but he also credits classes taken from local artists
Ray Troll, Mary Ida Henrickson and Doug Hudson. In his bio,
Mix says, "I paint and draw in response to an emotional
and intellectual drive, powered by an enthrallment with the details
and wide scope of nature."
I asked Mix what his plans are for the near future and he told
me, "I'm back in Ketchikan, after a short absence, to care
for my elderly parents. I have an opportunity to go out to George
Inlet Cannery. I'll be out there in early May in an open studio
where the tourists can come by and watch me paint. I want to
do a lot of cannery subjects out there."
Mix impressed the audience that roamed through the gallery on
Friday evening with his refreshing landscapes so his change of
subject matter to painting the old cannery should be something
for Ketchikan to look forward to. I know I will.
The Mainstay Gallery is sponsored by the Ketchikan Area Arts
and Humanities Council and is located at 716 Totem Way. "Musings:
The Soul Of Landscape" will be on exhibit through April
28th. Call 225-2211 for more information.
Marie L. Monyak is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
A freelance writer is an uncommitted independent writer
who produces and sells articles to a publisher such as SitNews.
Contact Marie at mlmx1[at]hotmail.com
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