Dennis Ziemienski: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Courtesy Western Art Collector, November 2010

 

Dennis Ziemienski, Power of the Chief, Oil on Canvas, 20 x 30 inches

Dennis Ziemienski, Power of the Chief, Oil on Canvas, 20 x 30 inches

 

Prolific artist Dennis Ziemienski thrives on painting figures, landscapes, objects, cityscapes - no subject is off limits.

"I love painting it all and I love tying them all in," says Ziemienski from his home in California.

Approaching his work from an illustration background, Ziemienski considers himself an image-maker. Always striving to master the materials, he says freshness is an acquired trait, almost evolutionary, that is not lost on him.

"I think my work becomes increasingly fresher the more I paint," he continues. "I aim to keep progressing and that includes coming up with materials that draw the viewer in. I feel this show is adroit, articulate and authentic."

 

Dennis Ziemienski, Under the Clouds, Oil on linen, 36 x 30 inches

Dennis Ziemienski, Under the Clouds, Oil on linen, 36 x 30 inches

 

And much like raising his only child, Sophia, Ziemienski paints off the cuff. In his latest body of work, titled Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Ziemienski illustrates the relationship of said objects to the American Southwest.

"My past works included these subjects so now I'm doing a whole show about them," says Ziemienski. "It shows how these modes of transportation changed the West."

Much like a theatrical production, Ziemienski uses the medium of oil to speak pictorially. He insists that each piece relays a narrative yet stands alone, and if he's not satisfied with a painting, he'll rework it until he is.

"The pieces in my show will have storytelling characteristics, giving life to the objects by including figures and situations," says Ziemienski. "I'm engaging the viewer in the overlay of one era or culture over another."

 

Dennis Ziemienski, Tucson Rodeo, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 36 inches

Dennis Ziemienski, Tucson Rodeo, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 36 inches

 

This collection embodies familiar dreamscapes of the West from the not too distant past. El Sombrero Drive-In, for instance, shows the long-gone whimsical architecture along old Route 66 in Albuquerque. Similarly, Tucson Rodeo depicts a time in our recent past about the excitement of the local rodeo and the odd dichotomy of a longhorn steer and automobile. The image stems from one the artist saw in an old book in which a cowgirl was advertising a rodeo in Livermore, California, in 1941.

"I think it's one of the more interesting pieces," says Ziemienski. "I superimposed my own thoughts...and changed the location to the Tucson desert and environs around Tucson. I love putting things together like that."

 

Dennis Ziemienski, Arizona Sunday Drive, Oil on board, 16 x 12 inches

Dennis Ziemienski, Arizona Sunday Drive, Oil on board, 16 x 12 inches

 

The environs around Tucson can also be seen in Arizona Sunday Drive in which Ziemienski shows a family's 1912 excursion in the wilds of the desert in a 1910 Model T. The setting coincides with Arizona's upcoming centennial.

Regardless of his chosen subject matter, Ziemienski always values his collector's opinions.

"It helps me to verify what I may already unconsciously know," he says. "To have a coherent collection of compositionally strong images that inspires and takes in the viewer are qualities that I require in all my work."

 

Dennis Ziemienski, El Sombrero Restaurant, Oil on canvas, 24 x 48 inches

Dennis Ziemienski, El Sombrero Restaurant, Oil on canvas, 24 x 48 inches

 

"For me, Dennis Ziemienski's artwork evokes a sense of deja vu: memories of the past come back to life; restaurants in the shape of hats, motels with flashing neon teepee signs and a sense of longing for what was such a golden time..." - Dr. Mark Sublette, owner, Medicine Man Gallery