Monday, April 22, 2024

Dave Wisniewski renders figures of the American frontier

Dave Wisniewski’s iconic representations of the Old West— large-scale works of surly gunslingers, stoic cowboys, hardened bandits, and grizzled miners— have brought the local artist national attention. “From Under the Brim,” a public exhibit of Wisniewski’s work, will take place in April at the River Centre Gallery. 

Remembering the west

Known for his imaginative, heavily-textured paintings of archetypical characters, Wisniewski’s works tell a story through his ability to capture the personality of his subjects profoundly and frankly. 

Every character takes the viewer into the past, with every face telling a story, “If we wanna know what’s going on, we don’t look at somebody’s shoes,” Wisniewski says. Bringing life to his characters through texture— mixing abrasive materials like coffee grounds, sawdust, oats, and barley with the paint. “The West was gritty,” said
Wisniewski, “A lot of scandals, a lot of people getting the short end of the stick.” 

A pivotal influence on Wisniewski’s artistic career is a significant loss of eyesight, which has lead him to larger canvasses with massive, imposing pieces. “I need that scale so that I have something I can see so I can get the results I’m looking for,” Wisniewski explained.

Going West

Wisniewski created his first cowboy painting in 1999,  generating immediate demand. A buyer saw a photograph of the piece and was captivated. “It never even got a chance to get on the wall,” said Wisniewski.

The West has been with Wisniewski since he was a child through the popular western television show, Gunsmoke. The cinematography influenced his aesthetic. “Those are the things that are imprinted in my mind,” Wisniewski explained, “I like the details in the background.”

Maintaining his western interest, Wisniewski immerses himself in Wild West history and recordings of True West magazine. “I’ve listen to every issue, cover to cover, while I’m painting,” said Wisniewski.

The stories and struggles of that time period become the twisted gazes of Wisniewski’s characters. The intimidating malice in the eyes of a hardened gunslinger follows the viewer around the room— creating the feeling of a showdown.  

See Wisniewski’s From Under the Brim at River Centre
Gallery throughout April. A corral of iron horses by sculptor, R. Mike Sohikian, will also be on view. 

Opening reception from 5-8pm on Friday, April 1, during the Red Bird Arts District First Friday Art Walk.
 River Centre Gallery,
5679 Main St. Sylvania | 419-882-8949. |

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