Reimag­in­ing the West

American Art Collector - - Contents - Lee Al­ban leeal­ban@com­cast.net • www.leeal­ban.com

In 2015, Lee Al­ban was in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in the Trav­el­ing the West Art Show & Sale di­rected by Ken Feather­stone and held at South­west Gallery in Dal­las, Texas. While not a West­ern artist per se, Al­ban has painted many steam trains and din­ers over the years so his work fit the theme. Need­ing to cre­ate pieces for the show, Al­ban dipped into his cat­a­log of land­scape pho­to­graphs he had taken on trips out West to land­marks such as Mon­u­ment Val­ley and Yosemite.

“I wanted to put fig­ures in my land­scapes, so I re­searched the Library of Congress for his­toric im­ages,” says Al­ban. “Noth­ing seemed to fit nat­u­rally into the land­scapes, so I had an idea—why not paint a vin­tage photo as Trompe l’Oeil and make it look like a pho­to­graph had been taped onto the land­scape paint­ing.” Al­ban’s paint­ings, which be­gin with him se­lect­ing the land­scape and then adding the pho­to­graph to the scene, are de­signed to be one seam­less im­age where the taped photo looks as if it was once in that place or time. “Part of the theme is that I’m re­turn­ing these peo­ple to the land, and of course they don’t oc­cupy that land now be­cause they’ve passed on,” Al­ban elab­o­rates. “You can al­most imag­ine that they were there, and, in­deed, they re­ally were there, per­haps. That’s how I come up with the el­e­ments to use.”

One of Al­ban’s new­est paint­ings in the se­ries, Be Known By the Tracks You Leave, de­picts a shadow-filled Mon­u­ment Val­ley with Na­tive Amer­i­cans on horse­back in­cor­po­rated in through the photo. “I have an ac­quain­tance who is a pho­tog­ra­pher, who does photo jour­neys

to places, but he also oc­ca­sion­ally takes a trip out West,” says Al­ban. “He was do­ing a pho­to­shoot in Mon­u­ment Val­ley and does an ex­cep­tional job…he gets per­mits and ar­ranges for a group of 10 pho­tog­ra­phers to go down into ar­eas of Mon­u­ment Val­ley that are re­stricted ar­eas and meet the Nava­jos who live on the desert floor.”

Other works, such as Teach Me Re­newal as the Seed That Rises in the Spring and Let Me Learn the Lessons That You Have Hid­den Un­der Ev­ery Rock and Leaf, are from var­i­ous lo­cales through­out Arizona, in­clud­ing the Apache Trail in the Su­per­sti­tion Moun­tains. These works, too, are an in­ter­pre­ta­tion of what life must have been like in the days of the Old West.

Al­ban’s new­est paint­ings in the se­ries will be re­leased this sum­mer to gal­leries rep­re­sent­ing the artist in Cal­i­for­nia, Arizona, Ok­la­homa and Texas.


Be Known By the Tracks You Leave, oil on panel,

24 x 30"


Teach Me Re­newal as the Seed That Rises in the Spring, oil on panel, 18 x 24"


Let Me Learn the Lessons That You Have Hid­den Un­der Ev­ery Rock and Leaf,

oil on panel, 18 x 24"


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