Name: Kerry Niemann
Town/Neighborhood: Apache Junction
When did you move to Apache Junction: I moved to the Apache Junction area in 2012 and soon became interested in drawing the Superstitions as well as the local people, horses, bulls and riders, and gunfight actors. Among my first drawing subjects in Apache Junction were a horse named Elvis and some scenes from the outdoor patio at The Hitching Post Saloon.
Where do you find your subjects?: When I first moved here, I was surprised to see horses lingering in front of the saloon, but the patrons actually rode them there. With live music and bull-riding, the Hitching Post was an art-subject mecca, and I have frequented the establishment for the last several years. I have also drawn some of the gunfight actors and scenery at Goldfield Ghost Town and taken many hikes into the Superstitions to draw.
How long have you been drawing and painting? What is your medium of choice?: I had been drawing and painting — mostly landscape drawing — for the last 20 years in the various states where I lived: Kansas, Colorado and California. I would almost always work plein-air, drawing the fields, hay bales, farm houses, beaches, derelict mines, shot-up cars…..just anything that looked interesting. My medium of choice was pen and ink — either a technical pen or calligraphy pen dipped in ink; and my paper was usually eight-by-10 inches so that it would fit into my backpack when I went out hiking or biking.
When did you become interested in large-scale painting?: I became interested in large-scale painting after being involved in some mural projects in Mesa a few years ago. Doing a mural on an 8-by-13-foot wall caused me to abandon some of my previous painting and drawing styles….less detail, less control and larger color areas. I did a sort of “surreal-expressionist” mural of the Superstitions with some horses and riders during the Mesa Brew Festival in 2017. It was one among five other murals along the outside wall of a building along MacDonald and Main Street, each done by a different artist. I painted my own garage door in 2015 with a similar mural, using aerosol paint, and earlier this year, I painted a mural of the Salt River horses on the car hood of my ‘92 Pathfinder — kayaking the Salt has been another plentiful resource for painting subjects. I liked it so well that I took the painted hood off my car and am planning to hang it in my living room. At the moment, I am finishing a 4-by-6-foot panel painting of a scene inspired by the bull riding at The Hitching Post.
What artists inspire you?: When I was attending art school at the University of Kansas in the 1990s — the state where I grew up — many of my instructors were steeped in abstract expressionism. We looked at a lot of “Bay Area Figurative Art.” I also looked at the paintings of Fritz Scholder, then later saw some of his work in galleries in Colorado and Arizona. I appreciate how these artists used intense color and brushwork to convey a social/psychological stance. I have also been inspired by the iconic Southwest painters: Frederic Remington, Charles Russell and Edgar Payne. I love the idea of melding large, expressionistic painting with regional subject matter.
More information: Go to KerryNiemann.com.