Mountainfilm: Nelson Parrish of Telluride Gallery, Show + 2019 Festival Awards

Mountainfilm: Nelson Parrish of Telluride Gallery, Show + 2019 Festival Awards

The line-up for the 41st annual gathering of the tribe in Telluride over Memorial Weekend features guest director Cheryl Strayed, plus Sir Chris Bonington, Hilaree Nelson, Erin Parisi and top Obama aide Ben Rhodes. (For more on Rhodes, go here.)

And the full schedule is here.

Passes/tickets to the 41st annual Mountainfilm are almost sold out. 

Artist Nelson Parrish is part of the stable at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, where his work will be on display over Mountainfilm weekend. Parrish is also creating the 2019 award for the winning filmmakers and stand-out causes. Scroll down to listen to a podcast to learn more about Parrish’s life and work. 

The word “flitch: refers to a plank of timber, cut lengthways from a tree trunk. Flitch beams consist of a steel plate sandwiched between two solid timber members and bolted together. Further alternating layers of timber and steel can be used as required to increase the strength of the beam.

Flitches, misogi and photography as a medium for capturing slices of life all play come into play in the art of Nelson Parrish, whose new work will be on display during Moutainfilm’s Art Walk. Parrish is also creating the 2019 Mountainfilm awards.

About six years ago, and for the second time in two years, Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver and a group of friends got together in chilly waters along the coast of Santa Cruz Island about 30 miles south of Santa Barbara to perform a Sisyphean ritual that involves gnar exercises like underwater rock running or paddle boarding for miles and miles across the Santa Barbara Channel.

They were practicing misogi, a secret, punishing ritual executed by some followers of Shintoism involving cold water immersion therapy. The benefits have been corroborated by modern science  – and by super-shooter Korver’s winning ways.

“…(That day) there (was) Marcus Elliott, 48, the mastermind behind this sufferfest, a Harvard-trained sports scientist who works with pro athletes and enjoys all-night jogs; Deyl Kearin, 34, a mellow real estate investor who ran 150 miles across the Sahara in 2012 and looks like he could be Laird Hamilton’s clean-cut younger bro; and Nelson Parrish, 35, a sturdy, Alaska-bred, former junior Olympic skier whose artwork, collected by John Legend and Rob Lowe, depicts “the color of speed…,” wrote Outside magazine about the event.

The term “Action Painting” is often used as a synonym for the work of a loose confederacy of artists known as the Abstract Expressionists, a lineage that became the dominant force in American painting by the end of the 1950s. As a group, AbExers were not unified by much except for the fact that what drove them all – from Mark Rothko to Clyfford Still, Robert Motherwell and Jackson Pollack – was an unbridled sense of freedom of expression that marked post-WWII America.

However, the term “action painter” takes on a whole new, far less subtle meaning when applied to artist Nelson Parrish, who has lived his life in constant motion and has no plans to quit now, especially not since his career has gained serious momentum:

“As for Mountainfilm, I am currently slotted to be fabricating the awards for this year’s winners. I am also expanding the new work that debuted in Telluride last year, tying this body of work closer to the conceptual aspects of time and objectivity, along with intensifying parallels to the making of photography, which reveals slices of life as I endeavor to do. I am also working on a couple of new aesthetic and conceptual ideas –  drawing closer to painting and language – that I am hoping to debut during Mountainfilm as well.”




Parrish grew up in Alaska where he spent his youth careening down slopes, pedaling over ridge lines, swimming across lakes, hiking into the backcountry – and years later, practicing the aforementioned misogi, which he once described as “a mental and spiritual challenges wrapped in a physical package.”

That description equally applies to Parrish’s art, generally speaking his “totems,” the artist’s term for works that are flashes of color –  or how we see a world in motion – captured in planed wooden planks wrapped in layers of semi-transparent and color-infused bio-resin. These totems, fusions of painting and sculpture, are very physical abstractions that capture and freeze many of the breakneck moments in the artist’s life when his perceptions of the world are naturally intensified.

No matter what form they take, all of Parrish’s powerful work does that. In other words, color and light and intense interaction with his surroundings bring focus and clarity to his unique artistic expression, so that all of his art evokes the same sense of elation in his viewers Parrish feels in motion when in the outside in the physical world – or inside in his studio.

It could be said that Parrish’s sculpture-like forms encapsulate the pure joy of living fully in each and every moment.

They are all about challenging himself – and us – in unexpected ways to push the envelope: physical, mental and emotional.

Action “painting” writ large.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.