Organizer/artist, Keith Wicks returns to Telluride for SAF’s Plein Air event

Organizer/artist, Keith Wicks returns to Telluride for SAF’s Plein Air event

[click “Play” to hear Keith Wicks]

104-0416_IMG_2-1 Telluride has artist Keith Wicks to thank for helping everyone see the light.

Wicks is a founding member of the Sonoma Plein Air Foundation. On a visit to Sonoma County and Napa Valley in Fall 2003, Sheridan Arts Foundation board chair Mark Dalton and his wife Susan happened upon an outdoor show of paintings in the Impressionist tradition in the Sonoma town square. Impressed, as it were, by the quality of the work on display, the couple met with the show’s organizer:Wicks.

Seeing an opportunity for a great addition to Telluride’s summer cultural calendar and a new and interesting way to raise funds for SAF’s family programming, Mark Dalton retained Wicks to mount the first local Telluride Plein Air event.


Six years later, the easels we now see planted in our alleys, on the river, up the middle of Main Street, along our highways and tucked into our trails since Monday, July 29, belong to Wicks and his colleagues, 30 of the more than 500 registered plein air artists in the country, selected for this show by a juried process to record their visceral responses to our mountains and meadows, historic buildings, and street scenes.

The underlying subjects of artists like Wicks who paint en plein air (in the open air) in the Impressionist tradition are light, color, and mood.

Keith Wicks is often described as a contemporary realist, but the label suggests he depicts things as he sees them in the natural world. That does not get close to what his work is about.

KEITH WICKS - DOWN TO THE LAST DOLLAR  In a Wicks canvas, old windows, marquees, car-lined streets, buildings in town settings, Mother Nature, even people, are simply great excuses to explore color over form and light over everything else. Composition – Wicks has no compunctions about manipulating his subject to suit his purpose –  color and light, especially light, establish the mood. Light is the heart and soul of a Wicks image: Light illuminating the faces of seated diners. Light glinting off the walls and windows of buildings. Light transforming the face of a mountain.

The end result are pockets of Telluride seen through Wicks’ mercurial temperament.

Wicks is a genetic anomaly: no one else is his large family painted. But his parents wholeheartedly supported the young prodigy, whose career as an artist was launched when he won his first city-sponsored art award in the sixth grade. Wicks sold his first painting at age 11.

Wicks had a brief but successful career a commercial artist – he owned his own advertising agency and he worked for George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic creating storyboards, commercials and projects – before following his bliss to Sonoma and life as an equally successful fine artist.

click the “play” button and listen to Keith Wicks talk about his life and work and Telluride Plein Air.

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