Local artist's works pay a NM inspired homage to Roy Lichtenstein

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  • Roy Lichtenstein
    American pop artist

Jan. 14—Mitch Elson has always been drawn to art.

Growing up in Santa Fe, his mother would put him in art classes in the summer.

That planted seed began to grow as he entered junior and high school.

Flash forward a few decades and Elson's art is in full bloom as the New Mexico native is having his first ever show at the East Mountain Public Library in Tijeras.

"I didn't do art too much after high school," Elson says. "I started to take it seriously and self educating myself in art. I've joined an atelier in California as well."

Elson's exhibit is called "Bringing Lichtenstein to New Mexico" and runs through Feb. 28.

He never thought he'd have a show, but he was in the library doing some research and made a query.

"They gave me the green light," he says.

As Elson has traveled the world, art was always at the forefront.

"I've made it a point to go to galleries in places like Madrid and Tokyo," he says. He also clears his mind when he rides his bike across different terrains and trails. "I've learned from my mentors through their thoughts and work. You need to do something every day. I train the art side of me daily."

Elson found inspiration in the work of legendary pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.

During the 1960s, along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and James Rosenquist, Lichtenstein became a leading figure in the new art movement. His work defined the premise of pop art through parody and is inspired by comics and popular advertising.

Elson says the art is simple, yet there's always a story to tell.

"(Roy) was very big on taking inspiration from masters and weaving into his own style," Elson says. "It was a great way to try and learn for me. With a couple of pieces in the show, I'm successful with this process. It's been a journey for me and I'm excited."

The exhibit has 18 pieces — half of those are pieces paying homage to Lichtenstein.

One of his pieces are two 11-inch-by-14-inch boards that were inspired by Lichtenstein's brush strokes. The pieces are called "Red or Green," which is a common question in New Mexico.

"This came about as I was working on a copy of (Johannes) Vermeer's 'Girl with a Pearl Earring,' " he says. "I was not happy with that work in my sketchbook until the last three strokes, which transformed the study. So I wanted to represent the chiles in just three strokes."

In his "Roswell July 8th, 1947" piece, Elson wanted to pay homage to one of New Mexico's most famous incidents.

It's acrylic on two panels that are 18-inch-by-24-inch.

"For those that know me, I had to get a UFO in there," Elson says with a laugh.

The other half of the pieces are inspired by the flora in New Mexico.

"I started to sketch sunflowers and wildflowers," Elson says. "Then I thought it would be interesting to paint my sketches. It's a project that I would like to take further and see what comes out of the process."

'Bringing Lichtenstein to New Mexico'

A series by Mitch Elson

WHEN: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday; noon-7 p.m. Thursday; closed Sunday and Monday; Runs through Feb. 28

WHERE: East Mountain Public Library, 1 Old Tijeras Road, Tijeras

HOW MUCH: Free to attend

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