Den­nis Ziemien­ski

Cow­boys & Cow­girls

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS - DEN­NIS ZIEMIEN­SKI

Den­nis Ziemien­ski has al­ways ad­mired the work of May­nard Dixon and Ed­ward Hop­per as well as the great il­lus­tra­tors of the early 20th cen­tury. In his suc­cess­ful ca­reer as an il­lus­tra­tor, he knew he had to get the story across as sim­ply and as beau­ti­fully as the de­sign­ers of early travel posters and fruit crate la­bels. “They were meant to at­tract peo­ple,” he says. “I started do­ing com­po­si­tions like that and it worked out well.”

In his Cow­boys & Cow­girls ex­hi­bi­tion, which opens Fe­bru­ary 9 at Medicine Man Gallery in Tuc­son, Ari­zona, his paint­ings give the viewer the el­e­ments of a story and let the viewer take it from there.

In Ask­ing for Di­rec­tions there are two ma­jor means of trans­porta­tion in the West—a horse and a pickup (in this case a clas­sic 1956 Ford F150 Over­drive). Ziemien­ski com­ments on our tra­di­tional way of in­ter­pret­ing things mov­ing from left to right be­ing pos­i­tive and fu­turelook­ing and things mov­ing from right to left as look­ing to­ward the past. It is up to the viewer to de­cide. The ques­tion re­mains in this paint­ing, “Who is ask­ing di­rec­tions of whom?” Typ­i­cal of his strong com­po­si­tions, a cir­cle mo­tif is re­peated in the wheels and the cow­girl’s hat.

“Com­po­si­tion is the ul­ti­mate thing for me,” he com­ments. “It’s what makes a suc­cess­ful paint­ing.”

At about the time he was ready to leave il­lus­trat­ing to pur­sue fine art, com­put­ers were com­ing to the fore. He has learned to be com­fort­able with tech­nol­ogy (“with the help of my daugh­ter”) and of­ten uses Pho­to­shop to as­sem­ble his ref­er­ences—from his imag­i­na­tion, mod­els, pe­riod pho­to­graphs and his own pho­to­graphs.

In Navajo Cow­boys he moved the rock

Ask­ing for Di­rec­tions, oil on can­vas, 24 x 36"

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