Crazy Mountain Original, by Clyde Aspevig, is another of his finely painted landscapes featuring the mountainous American West. Set in the late afternoon, during Golden Hour, the warm sunset illuminates the landscape from behind the viewer, bathing the terrain in warm colors. Wild fields recede into the distance and towards the feet of the mountains, giving a sense of the grand scale of the landscape that lies before us.
Clyde Aspevig’s personal and artistic horizons have unfolded expansively since his childhood on a Montana farm near the Canadian border. That period of geographical and cultural isolation was in retrospect a blessing for the artist he recalls. “Because I grew up in a vacuum in Montana, I wasn’t taught the cliches.”
He sees such naivete as allowing him to be more open to everything around him, which is especially evident in his latest works. His peripatetic field easel now ranges across the wild mountains and prairies of Montana, Death Valley, Adirondacks, rocky North Atlantic coast, Scandinavian fjords, and the well-tended hillside estates of Tuscany. Growing up, he witnessed the alternatingly painful and joyful cycles of agricultural life. He was unusually fortunate to be encouraged by his family in the pursuits of art and appreciation of music. Clyde learned early on to work hard and persevere against obstacles natural and manmade. Rather than scoffing at or demeaning Clyde’s interests, Clyde’s father, the practical but open-minded farmer, bought his twelve-year-old son’s first painting.
He considers his paintings as old friends and visual souvenirs of places experienced in his life. The viewer, too, shares in Clyde’s magical evocations of the landscapes that touched him.
While his early efforts attracted awards and critical praise from the regional or “Western” sector of the art community, Clyde’s work has since emerged to be highly sought after by world-class collectors. In a culture notorious for nourishing illustration of stereotypical, iconic subject matter, Clyde fearlessly departed whenever he felt the call and resisted early attempts by Western art dealers to label him and restrict him to the saleable panoramic scenics.
His paintings of the West are not theatrical sets intended to reinforce regional mythology, but rather evocations of places that he perceives as already disappearing during his own lifetime, subjects worthy of both artistic and societal preservation.
The paintings reflect Clyde’s intense days of absorbing his natural surroundings, days which shaped a philosophy: “I see nature as being so much more powerful than we realize.” He sees the true value of preserving the last islands of wilderness, agreeing with the late writer Wallace Stegner that just the fact of knowing it is out there is important to the human spirit.
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