Silk and steel

Western Art Collector - - VARIOUS LOCATIONS - LEE AL­BAN

In 2015, Lee Al­ban em­barked on his Silk and Steel series af­ter a pho­tog­ra­pher friend told him about a photo char­ter he was set­ting up at a rail­road. On site were women work­ers and reen­ac­tors dressed in Rosie the Riveter-style at­tire. “It was a re­ally suc­cess­ful shoot, and I came away with a series of photos that would make great paint­ings cel­e­brat­ing the role of women work­ing with steam lo­co­mo­tives and in rail­road work­shops,” Al­ban shares. “I wanted these paint­ings to pro­vide a strong con­trast be­tween the fem­i­nine char­ac­ter­is­tics of the work­ers and the rugged, pow­er­ful ma­chin­ery that they op­er­ated and re­paired.”

Since his ini­tial series, Al­ban has re­ceived at­ten­tion from around the world, par­tic­u­larly from women who work on steam en­gines and steam farm equip­ment. They have sent pho­to­graphs from all over that have in­spired new com­po­si­tions, in­clud­ing Avery Restora­tion.

The paint­ing was de­rived from a pho­to­graph a friend in Min­nesota sent where three women were restor­ing an 1800s trac­tor. “I was im­pressed by how mas­sively huge the trac­tor is,” Al­ban says. “I just thought—even though you can’t see their faces, which is what I usu­ally paint—it gave you a chance to re­ally see how big the equip­ment is.”

An­other im­por­tant com­po­nent of this series has been a fo­cus on the de­tails. Al­ban will rely on pho­to­graphs to in­clude ev­ery rod, pipe and con­nec­tion, so when peo­ple who have a vast knowl­edge of the ma­chines look at the work, they can say the com­po­nents are ren­dered pre­cisely.

New works from Silk and Steel will be on view in com­pe­ti­tions around the coun­try, as well as in galleries in Texas, Ok­la­homa and Cal­i­for­nia. For a di­rect link to the ex­hibit­ing gallery go to www.west­ernart­col­lec­

Main­te­nance and Re­pair, oil, 30 x 40” Fire in the Boiler, oil, 36 x 24”

Avery Restora­tion, oil, 30 x 40”

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