BEATTY — Someone in Beatty has been painting the town — but not red.
That somebody is David Ohlerking, Goldwell’s latest artist in residence. The artist has spent an extended residency painting scenes in Beatty and Rhyolite.
Many of the buildings he has painted initially are buildings and homes that were originally in Rhyolite before being moved to Beatty.
Ohlerking says he likes to paint buildings because “they’re about people. I like people. They’re like a shell for people.”
For the last couple of years, the artist has been spending a lot of time in Nevada. He has enjoyed Beatty. He used to stop when driving from Las Vegas to Tahoe. “I love the town. I always liked it, even before I had this gig.”
In fact, he has developed such an attachment to the town and its people that he has made the decision to close up his studio in Philadelphia and move to Beatty.
Ohlerking paints oils in a loose, fluid (literally and figuratively) style. He approaches oils very much as the watercolorist he originally was. He paints quickly with a sure hand and eye.
He says he developed this facility by spending a year painting nothing but fifteen-minute portraits of children on the streets of Philadelphia.
He has a special fondness for children and their vision of the world. If children approach to watch when he is painting on the street, Ohlerking will invite them to take a brush and add a few strokes to the painting. He will then finish the painting in such a way that the children’s contributions are preserved without looking out of place.
Back in Philadelphia, the artist drives an old Crown Victoria that is covered with small paintings done by children he has encountered in his travels.
“Children have joy in using the paint,” says Ohlerking,” something they lose as they grow up. I try to steal their brush stroke ideas.”
During his residency, Ohlerking has done only a couple of paintings of Death Valley scenes.
“Death Valley flipped me out — it’s so beautiful; why paint it? You could never get it as cool as what it really looks like.”
Ohlerking will keep his relationship with the gallery in Philadelphia that handles his work. He is also represented by a gallery in San Francisco.
A selection of his Beatty and Beatty-area paintings is on display in the Beatty Museum.
The prolific artist plans to keep the exhibit fresh by rotating new paintings into the show as he completes them.
Ohlerking keeps in contact with his teacher, Alex Kanevsky, at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art, and says his biggest reward is doing a painting that Kanevsky likes.