I have been the honored recipient of Don West’s work. Naxos/Paxos represents along with Bottom Light II a remarkable play of subjective composition. The expression of icon like forms is at one point an Homage to Mark Toby, with symbolic like elements dancing like pelagic forms in space, and at another point fresh in exuberance, vital with color hue movements that provide exquisite tension as a dialog with the forms that both exert and fade before one’s view.
It has long been a struggle in 20th century painting to claim victory in the form/composition corner versus the raw expression of color. West’s work achieves a bridge between the two. Rothko’s radiant color pulled away from form-giving and the drama of form was subjected. In a world filled with hunger to understand and communicate, West’s spirited forms’ march of bold and muted strokes being contrasted with a dynamic stage that is also in flux symbolizes the give and take, back and forth of life forces. If one wishes to give a living context to West’s images, they can be interpreted at the tide pool level or at the Galactic scale.
Don had shared with me his past experience in drama and stage management. Having heard this it is as if a benevolent yet spirited conductor embraces the value of the landscape and the actors collectively. The cinematic drama of the foundation of the canvas has both a past and a future, acting dynamically to be both fresh and respectful. One is not certain if the innocence of color is the driver of the work or the organic motion of looping elements are derived from Asian forms, furnishing us with carefully crafted man made meanings, or are these forms living creations, moving across time from an ancient past to a distant future. Paul Klee’s life forms march to and fro in similar ways, happily iconic, presenting the direct intent of their purpose, supported by a rich organic broth they seem to be feeding from.
West is a true master of composition. The energy derived from his deliberate strokes and the explosive colors are woven into an asymmetrical dialog found in few other works today. This contemporary progression is compelling to the spectator. As Phillip Guston pressed his way out of pure expressionism to a language of form and composition, one is equally satisfied with the weight and deliberacy of West’s work, presenting images that ebb and flow, asking us to witness their presence. The joy of Satie’s musical works are that they come from places not directly tied to a beginning or end, one is suspended, gravity and time lay subjected joyfully by the surge of life. West has paralleled music handsomely with his paintings.
Warren J. Hedgpeth, Architect
3883 Airway Drive
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
We are the fortunate owners of Koan 5 by Don West, a man who writes mysteries by pen and by brush. People ask us: “What is that painting saying,” and Don answers: “It is in the title”. A koan is a type of riddle asked in Zen Buddhism in the form of questions or statements that defy conventional logic. The purpose of the koan is to defeat the conditioned mind and aid in meditation. There is no answer to a koan’s question.…only time to ponder the mystery of the query. I am drawn to Don West’s art because there are layers of questions and layers of answers. His art makes me think. It makes me stop and take a breath and be in the moment, if only for that moment’s glance. There is peace to be found when swimming in the complex depths of Don’s art.
- Janie Cohen Nov 2007 Tucson AZ
In our sunny bedroom is Don’s painting called “The Retreat.” It is attractive and colorful but, more importantly, it is an invitation to look more deeply at its paths, which are tentative and a bit mysterious. I see depth here, and layers, and meaning - enough for a lifetime. It is not an answer; it is a journey.
We know Don as a person of many, many talents and not a few surprises - a man of curiosity, spirit, drive, and intelligence. We are proud to be living with his work.
- Bobbi Culbert Nov 2007 Sante Fe NM
I have owned Monsoon for over 15 years. Don’s work really touches me. Monsoon sends me on my way every day and greets me every evening. A painting of summer rain in Arizona, the colors and feelings are calming and soothing. The way it’s done, the movement, has a true sense of freedom. There’s a vibe coming from it that recalls to me what it’s like to be a kid out playing in the long awaited summer rains.
- JIm Ruhman Dec 2007 Tucson AZ