Rackstraw Downes: Texas Hills | "Exclusive" | Art21

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Episode #187: Filmed in late 2010, artist Rackstraw Downes discusses his interest in painting altered landscapes, such as the sand hills overlooking Presidio, Texas where ATV tire tracks cover the ground and a cell tower rises in the distance. While packing up his oil paints and easel after a day of working en plein air, Downes reflects on how growing up in the United Kingdom influenced his perception of the American West. Downes is shown working on "Presidio: In the Sand Hills Looking East with ATV Tracks & Water Tower" (2012).

Rackstraw Downes views the act of seeing and the art of representation as culturally taught, with different cultures accepting alternative delineations of the world as realistic. Often painted in a panoramic format, Downes's images evince careful attention to details as well as to broad expanses of their surroundings. Created plein air in locations as diverse as metropolitan New York, rural Maine, and coastal and inland Texas—without resorting to the use of photography—his compositions feature horizons that bend according to the way the eye naturally perceives.

Learn more about the artist at:

CREDITS: Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interview: Susan Sollins. Camera: Bob Elfstrom. Sound: Ray Day. Editor: Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Rackstraw Downes & Betty Cuningham Gallery. Theme Music: Peter Foley.

Rackstraw Downes, "Presidio: In the Sand Hills Looking East with ATV Tracks & Water Tower" (2012):