From a resort’s “desert oasis” to gardens inside modern office buildings, the natural world is integrated into our urban environments. Denver-based artist Mindy Bray turns her attention to these spaces, creating elegant paintings and site specific works that explore how we manipulate nature in urban settings.
Focusing on the concepts of “absence and presence,” Bray depicts transplanted natural elements, including palm trees, garden walls and river rapids in her work. Playing with the background and foreground of a design, she creates ghost-like images: a tree with no solidity, a river without the presence of water. Filling the wall or the canvas, these works appear to gracefully dance and multiply through space with their expansiveness and energy.
“[We create] a molded environment to fit within our urban context,” Bray comments. The idea for this exploration came to her when the city of Denver decided to build constructed rapids in the otherwise calm Platte River in March 2015. Remarking that the river historically flooded in 1965, Bray notes that it led to a decades-long “intervention and containment, and then recreational access,” with fake river elements as part of the design.
Bray’s approach to surface and space evolved during her graduate studies at the University of Iowa, from which she graduated in 2005 with a Master of Fine Arts in Painting. “I turned to wall painting during my MFA,” she explains. “After graduating, I started working on paper as a way to replace the wall, so that I could work independently in my home studio.” Her intuitive color choices are sunset-hued references to the natural world, verging at times on the nostalgic or dreamy.
Based in Denver, CO since 2006, she is currently working on large scale canvases, staining them with thin layers of ink and acrylic washes, then layering back into them with darker hues. These pieces are refined, elegant, and calming, belying the undercurrent of commentary on our constructed world.
Check out her work in person at the Colorado Convention Center, pictured above, as well as the Westin Hotel at the Denver International Airport. Busy at work on her new paintings and installations, there will certainly be more to come from her soon. For more information, go to mindybray.com.