Looking out over the plains we often forget that the massive expanse that we see today was actually underwater 200 million years ago in the form of the Pennsylvanian Sea. A hundred million years ago, we would be sitting in the old sea bed of the Western Interior Seaway.
This ancient piece of history is represented in “Ghosts of Sea,” a debut art exhibit by artist Alan Paine Radebaugh.
The exhibit runs at the Lincoln Center until Feb. 23 and is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and noon till 6 p.m. on Sundays free of charge.
Radebaugh, from Albuquerque, NM dedicated two and a half years to this collection and has spent quite a few years developing the idea.
At the age of 18, Radebaugh took a cross country drive through the plains which first sparked his love for the ancient landscape.
“I didn’t experience the drama of the great plains until I’d moved down into New Mexico. It took me years to get a sense of things. You don’t ever understand things, but you get a sense of what’s going on here,” Radebaugh said.
Radebaugh works by camping in the field for a week, making drawings and taking pictures.
“That’s how I like to work … and just absorb the place that I’m in,” Radebaugh said.
He has been working with this technique since 1997 to create abstract representations of space.
He then goes back to his studio, taking three months to make the group of paintings and then returning the field.
“I look forward to my camping trips and my alone time out there in the plains,” Radebaugh said.
Jeanne Shoaff, Gallery Coordinator at the Lincoln Center, explained the process of selecting artists for the gallery exhibitions.
“We had 70-some applicants and we selected eight people for exhibitions over the next two years,” Shoaff said. “It was just the work that spoke to me and our committee.”
Shoaff picked Radebaugh’s work because of the familiar sense of the West that audiences in Fort Collins could relate to.
“One of the reasons it resonates because we are a part of the great plains.The landscape is so familiar,” Shoaff said.
The changing environment is something that Shoaff and attendees saw in the paintings, a topic that hits home with the local community.
“They really appreciate the sense that he’s evoking this idea of the environment is really changing over time,” Shoaff said. “The climate is changing the face of where we live.”
Radebaugh has traveled from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Circle to the Appalachian Mountains, camping and then painting the landscape.
In New Mexico, Radebaugh often climbs on top of a local mountain and gets inspiration from the peak.
“I get a sense of these ancient seas splashing up against the terrain and mountains around. I see that stuff. It takes me back,” Radebaugh said.
Redebaugh works with a painting method that involves working rapidly and loosely which according to him describe a lot of the shapes and forms of abstract that make up his painting.
“I get lost in the process of making a painting through painting,” Radebaugh said. “It’s just that simple. I like to move paint.”