Andrew MacRae’s art brings the chaos (and some critters) to the Eastside
Andrew MacRae’s paintings, which is currently on display at the Mono Inn north of Lee Vining, are a far cry from most of the mountain scenes that can be found on display in the Eastern Sierra—though if you look hard enough, you’ll certainly see nature’s influence.
MacRae, 37, has lived and worked in Yosemite National Park for 15 summers now. “It ruined my life,” he says with a wry smile. He received his degree in studio painting from Humboldt State University “and a museum and gallery certificate, so I could get a job making minimum wage.”
He’s worked and managed several of the backcountry High Sierra Camps, but this summer, due to the record snow, the High Camps are not opening, and MacRae is living between Lee Vining and Oakland, working part time for “sharing economy” companies like TaskRabbit and Delete.
He’s also worked as an accountant for H&R Block.
And his paintings are just about as eclectic as his resume.
Over a smoothie at Stellar Brew just before his show opened on July 13, MacRae said he was heading to the Cast-Off thrift store to buy a shirt for the occasion, since he forgot to bring a nice one over from the Bay Area.
He talked about his influences (Salvador Dali, Ralph Steadman), methods (“intentional chaos,” such as pouring a cup of coffee onto a canvas to begin a painting) and his definition of “art” (“a creative process of regurgitating”).
MacRae’s paintings, mostly watercolor, ink and gouache on paper, are stunning and surreal. The colors are arresting and the detail is intricate. There is often animal life inserted into a chaotic scape.
“I think animals create a good narrative,” says MacRae, “and they can tell stories because we have emotional relationships with them, but we’re not communicating with them on a verbal level. We project our own human emotions onto animals. They’re victims of our tragic behavior.”
He says the surreal nature of the paintings generally evolves from a focal point originating from his time spent in nature and how it’s influenced him. “I always try to put a base of nature, at least color tones of nature, and then form the chaos off of that,” says MacRae. “I’m putting the human concept into it by making it abstract.”
MacRae’s Mono Inn show consists of about 20 paintings, which will be on sale until August 1. Paintings range from $200-$1200. “Deals can be made, prices are negotiable,” he says.
View Andrew MacRae’s art at www.admacrae.com or stop by the Mono Inn at 55620 US-395 to view his work in person.