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William Hook: New Perspectives on Familiar Landscapes

July 18, 2017

William Hook is a revered western painter who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Carmel, California. His serene paintings are inspired by the natural local landscape as well as the dynamic lines, rounded corners and distinct colors inherent to adobe architecture. Hook has an innate ability to capture light’s soft glow and illusive shadows on his canvases, resulting in mesmerizing depictions of quaking aspen groves, bright horizon lines or charming adobe doorways. Hook often paints curtailed compositions in square picture planes, allowing for a cropped perspective that pulls the viewer closer to a majestic mountain range or into a peaceful river valley. His controlled, yet spontaneous brushwork hints toward impressionism while maintaining a poetic realism that transports us to a familiar time and place when viewing his paintings.


“I’m more interested in theoretical pieces than the literal landscape,” says Hook, who often works from multiple photographs merged together in a way that alters the existing landscape. Mountain ranges that stand ten miles apart in reality are shifted closer in order to create a balanced and intriguing design. This technique, which the artist used when creating “Ranchos Village,” stems from Hook’s illustrative background. Before becoming a full-time artist, Hook had a successful 16-year career in the advertising world as an illustrator, creative director and agency partner. His top level training at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and competitive advertising career led him to prioritize quality craftsmanship and a creative conceptual approach, both of which are translated into his current artwork.


Hook’s skill set also stems from his artistic family background; he inherited his keen eye from his father, a professional photographer, and his architectural focus from his grandmother, one of the first female architects in the country. “Alley Art” is piece that is indicative of Hook’s creative perspective and artistic eye for interesting structures. The scene is a back alley in Taos, New Mexico, which the artist came across on a recent visit. While most would’ve obliviously walked past the mundane display of tagged utility boxes and overgrown sidewalk, Hook paused, intrigued by the intersection of lines, shapes and shadows. He later reinterpreted the image with saturated color and realistic lighting effects. Seen through the artist’s eye, this everyday scene becomes a striking work of art.


The New Mexico and California imagery in Hook’s exhibition ranges from loosely rendered landscapes such as “Leaning Left,” to more traditionally painted scenes such as “Ranchos Village” and “Chama Canyon.” Across his body of work is a consistent emphasis on craftsmanship, illuminated color and dynamic, yet balanced compositional structures. Attend the artist’s opening reception on Friday, August 4th, 5-7pm at the gallery and see the exhibition through August 10th.


-Kelly Skeen

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