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The Story Behind the Cover Photo
— Napa, Sonoma, & Marin



Intro

“Champagne and Chorizo” is a mixed-media painting done in the abstract expressionist style, using elements of abstract illusionism and collage. “It is a piece about opposites,” explains artist Michael Snodgrass. “I have used colors in conjunction with their opposites on the color wheel to create a visual tension: cerulean blue with orange, purple and yellow, black and white. The result is a riot of color that plays with the eyes.” He explains further, “The edibles listed in the piece are not opposites as such, but are incongruous elements meant to amuse by their relation to the other items.”



“Champagne and Chorizo” is a mixed-media painting done in the abstract expressionist style, using elements of abstract illusionism and collage. “It is a piece about opposites,” explains artist Michael Snodgrass. “I have used colors in conjunction with their opposites on the color wheel to create a visual tension: cerulean blue with orange, purple and yellow, black and white. The result is a riot of color that plays with the eyes.” He explains further, “The edibles listed in the piece are not opposites as such, but are incongruous elements meant to amuse by their relation to the other items.”

Snodgrass, who was born in St. Helena, California, is represented by The Christopher Hill Gallery, which is also in St. Helena. With only a single high school class in art behind him, Snodgrass started painting street scenes and cityscapes. His parents encouraged him to pursue other paths, but in the mid-1990s, while living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he returned to art.

It was in Santa Fe that he became passionate about primitive, Native American, Mexican and African tribal art. Eventually he moved back to California’s Monterey Bay area, and it was there he began cultivating his own distinct style: primitive, with elements of abstract expressionism. He describes his work as influenced by Mexican and New Mexican folk art retablos, small religious paintings placed above or behind altars. He describes his art, however, as “irreverent retablos, or paintings that glorify the inglorious.”

Although retablos typically glorify one particular saint or the Virgin and use minimal text to identify the subject, Snodgrass’ retablos reflect his fascination, in his words, with “scoundrels, chicken thieves, river rats and art critics.” He uses humor to tweak organized religion and modern-day idolatry. “I have stayed pretty true to this vision and have always maintained a humorous subtext,” says Snodgrass, “no matter how my style evolved or what the subject matter was.”

“I sought to create a body of work that had meaning to me and allowed me to work in a very physical and emotional way,” Snodgrass continues. “I use paint that is slathered on, dripped on, splashed and carved into with sticks, tools and fingers.” Although he finds it flattering that his work is often compared with that of graffiti artist Jean Michel Basquiat, he sees the comparison as flawed. Basquiat produced elaborately rendered figures. In contrast, Snodgrass says, “I am an artist that paints primitive figures in a very crude and primitive way. I am happy painting the way that I do.”



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