SHERIDAN — Kate Harrington, director of SAGE Community Arts, hails from the eastern United States, but the landscapes of the Mountain West keep her tied to Wyoming. And the artists Harrington chose as the gallery’s guests through Sept. 5 immerse viewers in those iconic landscapes.
The art of Aaron and Jenny Wuerker exemplify life in the American West, yet display a contrasting view of landscapes familiar to all in the area. Harrington met Jenny Wuerker through classes Wuerker teaches each fall. After getting to know the artist and discovering her husband work, Harrington felt the two would make for a good show in the fine arts gallery at SAGE. Harrington emphasized the importance of bringing fine art to Sheridan while also connecting viewers with local artists. The Wuerker’s work fit perfectly.
The geometric shapes and parallels between scenery and machinery inspires Aaron Wuerker to create his realism paintings.
“Those mechanical or industrial things lend themselves to a nice little mirror of [the Wyoming landscape],” Aaron Wuerker said. “A straight line or a triangle, those shapes sort of mimic or reflect those same lines we have in our landscape.”
Aaron Wuerker finds the marriage of the objects uncanny and works to make that clear in his work. His work often combines scenes like a mesa from one landscape paired with a bridge from another place. Working from photographs helps him create worlds that do not actually exist outside of his paintings. He completes his work indoors so he can better control the environment and come up with creations all his own.
His wife, however, fully immerses herself in the work through plein air painting.
“When I’m experiencing something, I’m able to communicate that onto the canvas much more easily than if it’s been translated first through the photograph,” Jenny Wuerker said.
The elements help Jenny Wuerker feel the painting, which eventually translates into her never-quite-finished works.
“Every time I’m out on the landscape, I’m experiencing a whole new story,” Jenny Wuerker said. “There’s always something happening — animals are coming out, the wind is passing through or the elements are getting involved — and it’s more than simply the image.”
Her hope for viewers is to feel the intensity of the landscape and truly absorb what she feels when she paints.
“Even when you’re in the gallery, you have the feeling of the presence of being outside,” Jenny Wuerker said.
Another main focus for Jenny Wuerker’s art is to exemplify exactly what drew Harrington to the art in the first place — the American West.
“I’m trying to paint the feeling of the western movie landscape,” Jenny Wuerker said. “What’s the idealized West? That’s what we see so frequently around here.”
And having painted these landscapes since 1995, the familiarity with the landscapes helps both Jenny and Aaron Wuerker create art that connects with its viewers.
With two completely different painting styles, the Wuerker’s still capture the quintessence of the American West in ways that draw people like Harrington to them time and again, something observers can experience at their SAGE show.