Staff report Sep 6, 2022 Updated Sep 8, 2022
The three-dimensional expressiveness of painter Brad Teare – at Chimayo Trading Taos
There are few artists today who can paint using the impasto technique practiced by eminent artists like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Rembrandt van Rijn, Diego Velázquez, Vincent van Gogh — and realize the expressiveness that Brad Teare achieves, according to Gabriel Abrums, co-owner with Alicia Abrums of Chimayo Trading Del Norte.
“His works are three-dimensional sculptural renderings. Layer after layer of texture that appears to be coming out of the canvas,” Abrums says. “There is strength and speed visible from his application of the paint — Brad’s work is like no other artist in our gallery.”
Tempo reached out to Teare who is home-based in Utah – Here are the highlights.
Please talk about the log cabin in the foothills of Moscow Mountain in Idaho and the epiphany that led you to painting.
I was raised in Kansas. During high school I played in a professional rock band. As a drummer, I loved sharing my creative gifts in a contagious and powerful way. Despite my foray into music, I wanted to be a visual artist. But music gave me the first taste of the creative life and a realization I could make a living in an artistic field.
Like most of my era, I was exposed to the pervasive cultural influences of the ’70s. The movie “Jeremiah Johnson” was both visually and conceptually compelling. That film, combined with the reading of Thoreau’s “Walden,” formed the kernel of an idea — move to Northern Idaho, squat on my brother’s land near Moscow Mountain (he was living in Argentina) and build a log cabin. I enlisted the help of my high school friend and headed west.
We spent August 1975 building the cabin, sheltering under a tarp stretched inside the emerging structure. A local farmer offered to let us dissemble his barn. We used the lumber to construct the roof and the interior furnishings. I don’t remember the exact cost, but we came under Thoreau’s $24 for the construction of his cabin. Living in the cabin, I learned I could live on next to nothing and that a creative life was worth any deprivation it might entail.
My friend took a job further north. I stayed and spent the year exploring the countryside and painting, living off the proceeds of a motorcycle I sold. That summer, I helped build the Pacific Crest Trail. It was there, enveloped in the austere beauty of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, that I set a goal to be a professional landscape painter one day.
Decades later, the forest around the cabin was logged, and the cabin burned down. I returned once and was surprised to see the forest had grown back and the land returned to its original state, almost as if I had never been there. Mother nature is fierce in her ability to reclaim what is hers.
After art school and a five years stint as an illustrator in New York, I moved to Northern Utah, two valleys north of where “Jeremiah Johnson” was filmed.
What are you most attracted to in Taos and the surrounding areas?
Our age seems to be the age of hyperbole. When I read about Taos light, I assumed it to be hype. A friend encouraged me to camp along Abiquiú Lake on the property of a mutual friend, telling me how amazing it was. I took him up on his offer and painted along the Rio Chama and near Ghost Ranch.
Hyperbole doesn’t do justice to the light I saw on that trip. The light was legendary. During a freak snowstorm in October, I took refuge at a downtown Taos hotel and fell in love with the city of Taos. Taos skies are like nothing I have ever seen, and the Taos mountains have an awe-inspiring, mercurial personality.
What is your creative process?
Nature is the source of energy in my paintings. I travel the countryside, find an aspect of the natural world that ignites my devotion, and paint a field sketch. I identify the key elements that spark my fascination and paint them onto the canvas. I’m enamored with the joy, energy, mystery and paradox the landscape evokes.
Who are you reading and what is on your nightstand?
I just started “The Matter with Things” by Iain Gilchrist. It promises to be the book I love — devoid of assumptions that short-circuit the opportunity to ruminate. On the other end of the spectrum, I’m reading the latest Uncle Scrooge volume, “The Golden Nugget Boat” by Carl Barks, a guilty pleasure I cherish. I’m also reading “Victor Higgins, An American Master,” a book I picked up at the Couse-Sharp Historical Site on my last visit to Taos.
Who inspires you?
Van Gogh is an enormous influence. I was first exposed to a collection of his work when I worked in New York as an illustrator. His work’s power, rhythm and texture moved me. Although the essence of his work remains a mystery to me, I’ve dedicated a considerable portion of my career to learning to handle thick paint. Although inspired by Van Gogh, I feel my work is distinctive. I work exclusively with palette knives. I would never dishonor Van Gogh by expropriating his use of Cloisonnisme or other unique qualities. Other influences include painters who used lots of color and texture, such as Edgar Payne, Birger Sandzén, and William Wendt.
Teare hosts a lively youtube channel with painting tips and philosophical explorations. See youtube.com/user/BradTeare
Chimayo Trading Del Norte holds a few of Teare’s paintings in their gallery. For visual details visit the Chimayo Trading Del Norte website chimayotrading.com/ or visit the gallery, next to San Francisco de Asís Mission Church, a historic and architecturally significant building on the main plaza of Ranchos de Taos.