Phoenix Art Museum exhibit examines impact of mining on the West

While mining is one of the most important industries in the United States, few people turn it into art.

But in an exhibit that features media ranging from photographs to watercolors to lithographs, the Phoenix Art Museum tells the story of American mining.

“Landscapes of Extraction: The Art of Mining in the American West,” opened on November 7 and will run until March 6, 2022 in the museum’s Steele Gallery. Showcasing more than 80 paintings, prints and sculptures dating from the 1910s to the present day, the exhibition shares the history, impact and art of mining in Western America.

Organized by Betsy Fahlman, Assistant Curator of American Art at the Phoenix Art Museum, “Landscapes of Extraction” is the first major West American art exhibit at the museum since “The West Select” in 2014.

“It tells the story of one of America’s most important industries,” Fahlman said. “We can hardly have anything that is not related to mining. The plastic water bottle, the gas in my car, whatever you want. It’s all from mining. The gallery tells this. great national history that has a particular impact on the West American. “

From New Deal-era paintings honoring Depression-era miners to photographs by Edward Burtynksy that share ecological effects, the exhibit tells the story of the industry. Other notable artists include Lew Davis, Philip C. Curtis, Paul Sample, and Louise Emerson from the early to mid-20th century and contemporary artists David Emitt Adams, Martin Stupich, Cara Romero, and Erika Osborne.

“I wanted to tell a story that wasn’t just about a period, but also how these issues entered the present,” Fahlman said.

Why Erika Osborne’s “The Chasm of Bingham” is featured

If you’ve been by the Phoenix Art Museum lately, you’ve probably seen a large photograph of Osborne’s oil painting on linen canvas, “The Chasm of Bingham” on the front of the museum. It’s coverage of the entire exhibit and there’s a reason for that, Fahlman said.

“She captures both parts of the series in an absolutely beautiful way,” said Fahlman. “I wanted to tell a story that was not just about a period, but also how these issues came into the present.”

Osborne has always loved art; he ran in the family. Her aunt was an engraver, her uncle an illustrator and her grandmother a painter. She had always grown attached to the outdoors, and trees were part of Osborne’s early sketches. She still draws them.

And while she was co-director of “Landscapes of the American West” at the University of New Mexico – where she is also a professor – Osborne began to trace why she photographed and painted landscapes the way she did. .

In the process, she discovered the Hudson River School artists who painted the Western landscape in the mid-1900s. Artists like Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran were hired by railroad companies to paint the West. and support tourism.

His painting is based on “Colorado’s Deep” by artist Thomas Moran, except that in his painting Osborne depicts the Bingham copper mine just southwest of Salt Lake City.

“I thought, ‘How bad do I want to do paintings in a particular aesthetic way that refers to these painters from the Hudson River School? “But I thought to myself, what if I used the visual language of the Hudson River School to paint the Manifest Destiny artifacts as we see them in the west today?”

Osborne completed the 48 x 90 inch “Bingham’s Deep” in 2012 after working there 20 hours a week for 9 months. The painting is part of a larger project, “Re-Manifesting Destiny,” said Osborne, which explores the industrial effects of the time. The project delves into the culture of Manifest Destiny – from mines to military-industrial settlements and highways – to show its effects today. Manifest Destiny was the idea that European settlers in the United States were destined by God to spread across the country.

“With mining, we are changing landscapes that took millions and millions of years to develop and changing them in decades,” Osborne said. “We are doing all of these things on such a large scale, that they have impacts that things like ice ages, meteors and volcanic eruptions have on the planet.”

Here are 10 paintings not to be missed

According to museum curator Dr Betsy Fahlman, these are the paintings you’ll want to see while you tour the exhibit:

  • “The Miner” by Kenneth Miller Adams, 1937
  • “Oil Field Girls” by Jerry Bywaters, 1940
  • “Pan Oil, Ramsey Mine, Ramsey, Nevada” by Maynard Dixon, 1927
  • “Bingham Mine” by Jonas Lie, 1917
  • “Oil boom” by Cara Romero, 2015
  • “Bingham’s Deep” by Erika Osborne, 2012
  • “Panorama Morenci by Martin Stupichs, 1986
  • Edward Byrtynski: Oil Fields in Belridge, California, 2002
  • “Copper Camp – Spring” by Lew Davis, 1936
  • “Morning at the Little Daisy, Jerome” by Lew Davis, 1936

“Extraction landscapes”

Or: Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. 602-257-1880,

When: Until March 6, 2022.

Cost: Free for members; $ 23 for adults; $ 20 for seniors; $ 18 for college students; $ 14 for children aged 6 to 17; free for children 5 and under.

Contact the reporter at Follow her on Instagram @ sofia.krusmark.

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