The infamous astrophysicist Carl Sagan proclaimed that imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, without it we go nowhere. It could be added that those with such wild and vivid imaginations who boldly and bravely give them life and exposure in our contemporary culture are the heroes of eternal youth.
Visionary architect Souther Salazar’s elaborate compositions of mystical vignettes, active on the canvas, are alive and rich in all childlike knowledge that we only wish we were fearless enough to carry with us into our adult selves. Consider carefully the pertinacious turtle in the painting What You Carry With You, valiant in a progressive journey, surrounded by all the subversive elements of our socio-politico development among faces of curiosity and wonder purposely planted in the undulating mountains along his path.
Carrying in his (or her) shell a myriad of creative tools, symbols of inspiration and inventiveness; not unlike the instruments of fostering youth: natural elements, books represent learning, toys which develop social skills and ingenuity, a snow-globe gives the idea of goal-oriented destination, and a large sea shell that maybe he holds to his ear to hear the magic pull of the wild beyond saturated certainty. Adorned upon his head, skewed meticulously to not shade his sight and impede the intent of exploration, is a hat made of industry. In the distance, a proud maternal mountain stands tall out of the water, alone covered in green wearing a tree crown, looking out upon the traveler patiently, eagerly.
This animated creation is not an existential objective, as with all of his work, they are familiar landscapes that eerily resonate within, delighting the senses and invoking an intangible déjà vu. Salazar astutely illustrates a multidimensional universe of dreams.
Known places with intimate characters networked in the stories. You, the viewer, has been here, you know the way, and you just have to go back to when you believed such curious things were possible. Throughout each cosmos that Salazar paints, an invitation arises, a requirement to arrive in the most vulnerable innocent place, as such, open to the discovery of playfully energetic nuances and found in the youthful trance of pure imagination.
Creativity is a completely underrated carryover from childhood, a natural human faculty that has been bravely championed by this prolific contemporary artist.
Salazar grew up in Hayward, California near the San Francisco bay area. His art developed as story telling through comic like depictions of characters on adventures; read through small flip books and sketch booklets, also brought to life in sculptures. Salazar has a BFA from the Art Center College of Art and Design in Pasadena, CA.
For a long time you could purchase his prints and unique items on the artisan marketplace Etsy. Today he works out of his home in Portland, Oregon and is represented by the Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York City, GR2 in Los Angeles, and Narwhal in Toronto, among others. His pieces are created using an array of mixed media, painting, drawing, as well as assemblage, collage and found objects. In an interview with Yvonne Emerson for We Make, he says that his process is the collection of different creative impulses, put together not necessarily in one piece, but from lots of little pieces. His aptitude for imagination and gift for illustration is the wonder of exploration and courage to create. Most recently Salazar was exhibited at Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah for the exhibition “Thirty Three: Celebrating 33 years of the Independent Spirit and Sundance Film Festival.”