Ni­cholas Cole­man

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS -

West­ern liv­ing

Ni­cholas Cole­man has been all over the United States, to Canada, Europe and even Africa. For two years, as a mis­sion­ary for his church, he lived in the south­ern-most tip of Brazil near the border with Uruguay. He’s seen what other parts of the world have to of­fer. And yet he has cho­sen the Amer­i­can West to lay down his roots.

This ab­stract idea of home—and what that may look like—is the un­der­ly­ing theme of the Utah artist’s new show, Liv­ing in the West, which opens June 1 at Trail­side Gal­leries in Jack­son Hole, Wyoming. Every town has a story, and it’s those sto­ries that help tell our own tales about the places we call home.

“Grow­ing up in the West, in my opin­ion, has been pretty fan­tas­tic. My town of Provo, Utah, was named af­ter a French fur trap­per named Eti­enne Provost. He was one of the first Euro­peans to make it into what is now the Provo

Val­ley in 1825. He had a few run-ins with the lo­cal in­hab­i­tants at the time and was lucky enough to es­cape with his life,” Cole­man says. “I think what a lot of peo­ple take for granted is their lo­cal his­tory. The cities that run up the Wasatch moun­tains are al­most all named af­ter prom­i­nent moun­tain men. The cities of Mur­ray, Draper, Og­den, to name a few. I have been lucky enough to travel quite a bit. My mom from an early age took me to Europe, visit­ing cathe­drals, art mu­se­ums and the Alps…this def­i­nitely nur­tured my love of his­tory and other cul­tures.”

For Cole­man, the more he lived in other places, the more he iden­ti­fied the West as his own home. This was es­pe­cially true in Brazil. “What was pretty amaz­ing about liv­ing amongst Brazil­ians is that it was like go­ing back in time. Dirt and cob­ble­stone roads. Men and women on horse­back was com­mon­place as I was in the land of gau­chos! Af­ter a six-month struggle learn­ing Por­tuguese I be­came and am flu­ent,” he says. “I drew and painted when I had the time. Upon re­turn­ing to the states I in­stantly be­gan to be able to pro­duce the work I had long dreamed about while I lived in Brazil. I was quite happy to get busy paint­ing full­time.”

Af­ter his re­turn state­side, the artist, the son of renowned West­ern painter Michael Cole­man, set up an easel in his fa­ther’s stu­dio. Af­ter sev­eral years, Cole­man had started his own family and had his own stu­dio, though his fa­ther’s in­flu­ence was never far. “I will al­ways be a Cole­man!” he says, adding, “Over the years I have col­lected and now sur­round my­self with paint­ings, ar­ti­facts and ac­cou­trements that in­spire my paint­ings. My wife gets af­ter me a lit­tle bit, but she knows how the process works and is happy as long as most of it stays in the stu­dio!”

Liv­ing in the West will fea­ture up to 15 new works that ex­em­plify Cole­man’s style of paint­ing.

“In my work I love the grand vista. Over the years I have tried to find the bal­ance to where a work of art will hope­fully grab your at­ten­tion from across the room. Then, as you ap­proach it and look into it more closely, the small de­tails are there to keep the viewer en­gaged and vis­ually sat­is­fied,” he says. “This up­com­ing show at the Trail­side Gal­leries was a mix be­tween reading a few Ernest Thomp­son Se­ton books and my own ex­pe­ri­ences in the back coun­try of Utah this last fall and the winter ski­ing with my son Hen­rik up at Sun­dance near our home in Provo. I love big game. Moose, griz­zly bears, black bears, deer, but I also love the birds, squir­rels and the small game that are hard to miss if you are pay­ing at­ten­tion when you are out and about. I feel com­pelled to paint the lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ences I have and I look for­ward to my time out­side. The lit­tle crit­ters that are run­ning around re­ally do make my day.”

Ni­cholas Cole­man in his stu­dio in Provo, Utah.

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