Diane Best + Gwynn Murrill: Stillness in Motion


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Diane Best + Gwynn Murrill: Stillness in Motion
Jun 26 – Jul 18, 2018


TELLURIDE, COLO.— “Stillness in Motion,” an exhibition featuring the work of two celebrated California-based artists, will be on view at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art this summer from June 28 through July 17. The exhibition presents recent work by painter Diane Best and sculptor Gwynn Murrill, both artists who explore the natural world through close observation, physical presence, sensitivity to materials, and a spirit of vitality and grandeur. In this exhibition, the two artists are featured together for the first time.

Stillness in Motion invites viewers to experience nature through different lenses, calling attention to subtleties of environment, the animal realm, and panoramic terrain. Painter Diane Best, based in Joshua Tree, California, is most well known for landscapes that evoke the contemplative atmosphere and extremes of form and experience found in the American desert. In this show, several studies of Joshua trees reveal the artist’s precise and painstaking observation of nature. Her large, wide oil-on-canvas paintings offer an expansive and vast sense of place, where looming storms and dramatic transformations are inherent to the environment. This exhibition includes recent work reflecting the artist’s travels to Antarctica, whose stark and visually arresting forms are captured in two nighttime scenes. In Antarctica Berg (48 in. x 72 in.), blocky white ice formations at the base of mountains, illuminated by moonlight, are rendered as painterly, almost abstract forms, inviting the viewer to consider the ambiguity between the natural and the abstract. In addition, Best has recently created two paintings of the Telluride area itself that appear in the show, calling attention to the unique beauty and geography of this place. Telluride Whiteout (36 in. x 72 in.) captures an extraordinary moment as thick cumulus clouds move across the panorama of the sky, creating a visual slice of air through which the snow-capped mountains are visible. While this glimpse of mountain occupies just a fraction of the canvas, the immensity of their forms is clear.

Sculptor Gwynn Murrill primarily works in bronze to create animal forms that have naturalistic, vibrant, and even iconic qualities. Over a career of several decades based in Los Angeles, her works have found homes in collections ranging from the National Wildlife Museum to the Norton Simon Museum, revealing her unique ability to express both intimate observation and physical and emotional essence. Her work often features animals perched or elevated, in some cases upon an element from nature such as a branch, in others on a more abstract form suggesting a slab of rock or a base or stand.  In Wolf I on Short Base, a wolf appears in mid-step, vigorous yet streamlined. The animal’s elevation on a simple slab calls attention to its worthiness as an artistic subject and to the graceful animal form itself. The majestic Hawk on Branch (148 in. high) stands out with its sweeping form and naturalistic representation of the bird of prey. From its high perch, with feet steadfastly planted on a small circular platform, we are invited to consider an elevated view and a closer look at the delicacy, grace, and majesty of everyday creatures. Simplicity of form in Murrill’s work is complemented by her careful attention to surface and texture.

About her sculptures that represent animals of the California countryside, Gwynn Murrill has stated,
“My interest lies in using my chosen subject as a means to create a form that is simultaneously abstract and figurative. I enjoy the challenge of trying and take the form that nature makes so well and to derive my own interpretation of it.”

Diane Best describes her work as relating to nineteenth-century traditions of landscape painting, while updating and expanding the genre through both painting and filmmaking. She cites the use of contemporary theories of perception that have been influenced by deep ecology, photography, cinema, digital imaging, and animation. She has described as her creative goal, “Seeking more and more remote, uninhabited and overlooked corners of the desert, I am interested in preserving or recording a single incredible moment of converging light and landscape while enjoying the space, or beauty and quietness of the desert.”

Diane Best’s work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions throughout the country, including a solo show at the Carnegie Museum in Oxnard, CA, and a show at the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles (part of the Autry Center of the American West). She has taught painting workshops in Joshua Tree National Park for the Desert Institute and is also a filmmaker. Gwynn Murrill received an MFA from UCLA. She is the recipient of many awards, and her works are included in collections throughout the United States, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Palm Springs Desert Museum. Her numerous public art commissions include works for the San Francisco Zoo and the City of Obihiro, Japan.

There will be a reception and film screening for the artists on June 28, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A town-wide Artwalk event will take place on July 5, also from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.