Joshua Tree National Park announces the June 3 opening of Mike Shankman's “Open Studio: New Paintings from the High Desert” exhibit at the Riverside Art Museum. Shankman was a 2010 participant in the park’s Artist-in-Residence Program, which is operated in partnership with the Riverside Art Museum. The program encourages artists to explore content related to Joshua Tree National Park and create a body of work that inspires interest in the park and builds better understanding and dialogue about our national parks, natural and cultural resources, the environment, and desert issues.
The story of America’s national parks has long been told through the heightened sensibilities of the country’s artists. The watercolors of Thomas Moran played an important role in convincing the U.S. Congress to set aside Yellowstone as the nation’s first national park in 1872. National parks are now called “America’s best idea.” Since that time artists continue to be inspired by national park landscapes and cultural and historic themes to create works that share their unique vision with the American public visiting our national parks.
Raised in Boulder, Colorado, Shankman received a B.A. in Global Studies from UC Santa Barbara in 2002. He was a co-founder of Million Fishes in San Francisco. He lives and works in both San Francisco and Brooklyn. While at Joshua Tree National Park, he produced a group of paintings utilizing several different styles: one series was painted on window panes salvaged from his family’s house. He says of his technique, “Working front and back, inside and out, and cutting away as well as adding paint is an entirely new approach, but it fits the whole experience of not-knowing, of exploring. Painting on the far side of the glass is like making a sand painting; the surface is the bottom layer, not the top. Holes in the paint film create layers, like a stack of Swiss cheese, some serving as reflective varnishes, some becoming windows all the way through to the wall behind. Sculptural as well as painterly, the process is potentially endless—new layers can be added and subtracted ad infinitum on both sides of the transparent surface.”
Mike Shankman’s paintings from his Joshua Tree National Park residency will be on display at the Riverside Art Museum, 3425 Mission Inn Avenue, in Riverside, California from June 3 through August 31. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed Sundays. Their telephone number is 951-684-7111. For more information about the Artist-in-Residence program, please contact Caryn Davidson at 760-367-3012.