Abstract artist Maggie Remington poses with a large earth painting in her Lovelock apartment. A selection of the nomadic artist's three-dimensional work is on display at the Lovelock Pharmacy.
Abstract artist Maggie Remington poses with a large earth painting in her Lovelock apartment. A selection of the nomadic artist's three-dimensional work is on display at the Lovelock Pharmacy.
The mysterious work of landscape artist Maggie Remington has, for months, adorned a wall of the local pharmacy. Instead of realistic illustrations, customers will encounter abstractions of the Lovelock landscape.

Some customers have been intrigued while others simply ignore the unframed, rumbled canvasses.

Remington is accustomed to the mixed reviews of her unorthodox work. The nomadic artist was drawn to Lovelock last year but her abstract paintings have been shown at art galleries throughout the West.

“At the Lovelock senior center, so many people have said, we don't understand what abstract painting is,” Remington said of the local response to her art show. “I said it's about what evokes feeling in you.”

Remington hunts down and digs up colorful dirt and rocks from nearby or remote mountains, canyons, parks, mines and other back country areas. During outdoor painting sessions, the materials are mixed with a medium then applied by hand to canvasses on the ground. Remington explains that she slows down her mind to the here and now and releases control of the creative process to the earth and spirits.

Swaths of brown, red, yellow, black and other earth colors reflect the local landscape, according to Remington. Canvasses naturally shrink and distort into three-dimensional objects as they dry in the sun.

Remington's apartment doubles as a personal gallery with her canvasses nailed to almost every wall. Natural window light accentuates the sculptural quality of the work not obvious on her online gallery.

The artist avoids cold, wet or windy weather but unforeseen elements sometimes show up uninvited.

“In Colorado, it started to rain and, before I could get the painting under the car, the rain left it's mark,” Remington said. “When ants or other things run across it, leaving a trail, that adds to the painting.”

Well-known local artist Devoy Munk has introduced Remington to the Oreana, Rye Patch and other areas where potentially desirable colors of dirt and rocks might be found. Expeditions into more remote back country areas will continue as the weather improves according to Remington.

“A man who lives in Rye Patch told me he knows where there's some blue so he's going to take me to look for some blue,” Remington said. “I'm curious. I'm sure it's more of a gray but we'll see. Near mined areas there's color but you also have to careful of the tailings because of poisonous materials.”

Remington offers individual and group workshops in her earth art technique and may do so this month or next in Gerlach. She was selected as one of two Artists in Residence by Friends of the Black Rock High Rock National Conservation Area and the Bureau of Land Management. Each year, chosen artists receive a small stipend and housing to highlight the public land in their art for later public displays.

The program is intended to “raise awareness through art of the exceptional places protected within the BLM's National Conservation Lands” according to the BLM press release. As well as a Gerlach workshop, Remington said she may do presentations in Reno, Winnemucca and possibly Lovelock.

“The program provides an opportunity for learning and dialogue regarding the value of preserving public lands,” says the BLM's AiR Project Lead Kathy Ataman. “It's exciting to see how the selected artists interpret the dramatic landscapes and we look forward to reviewing this year's submissions.”

During the two week residency, Remington will sometimes be guided in her search for earth materials and painting locations by local residents and BLM officials familiar with the vast Black Rock Desert.

“Kathy told me they'll take me out to areas because it's huge. It's not just the playa, it's ten conservation areas out there,” Remington said. “She said the Calico Mountains have color and I saw some pictures of some yellow so I can't wait to see that. I haven't really seen good yellow here.”

A relative of famous painter and sculptor Frederick Remington and a former mortgage banking executive, “before it became a dirty word,” Remington quit a lucrative career, sold most of her possessions and traveled the world. It was a personal transformation after more than 30 years of financial planning, she said. “It's about learning to stay in the moment. I started going by instinct.”

That instinct drove Remington to Nevada and then to Lovelock where she didn't know anyone, at first. At the local senior center, the 73-year-old artist encounters curiosity and uncertainty about her work.

None of that seems to bother Remington, who finds what she really needs in the surrounding landscape. As a newcomer to Nevada, she's learning to appreciate the subtle terrain of the Great Basin Desert.

“I've been lucky to be drawn to special places and the energy around here is special,” she said. “It's desert but there's a feeling, there's an aliveness of the earth. It's the earth that pulls me.”

Remington explained that her art is inspired by the land, not the people, who may love it or reject it.

“Abstract art is all about emotion,” she explained. “Some people are drawn to it and for others, it means nothing. I had to learn that after my first show.”

To see online galleries of Remington's work, go to her website at www.MaggieRemington.com.