Nathanael Gray releases “A Year in Tahoe” exhibit online

“Sunset Swim,” by Nathanael Gray

Artist Nathanael Gray has released his exhibit “A Year in Tahoe” online with a gallery showing in Sacramento. Gray spent the last year exploring and painting the Lake Tahoe Basin for the series.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Eliott Fouts Gallery director Michelle O’Brien will hang the exhibition and the work can be viewed at ayearintahoe.com, a website dedicated solely to the exhibition. In addition to the paintings, the website will document Gray’s trips and stories while creating this series of work. The exhibition “A Year in Tahoe” will be on display at the Elliott Fouts Gallery until June 4.

Gray works primarily as a plein air painter. His paintings reflect the experience of being in the mountains, or along a lake or sitting on a rock after a sunset swim. He hiked up steep mountain trails with large canvases (up to 3 feet by 4 feet) and his easel strapped to his back. On a couple occasions, he climbed through knee-deep snow, up boulders to get a view of the whole lake.

On one occasion, after enjoying a day skiing on the slopes, he rode up the ski lift with his easel and canvas to do a painting on top of the mountains. He then skied down the slopes with painting in hand. Unfortunately, he was kicked off the mountain by ski patrol as the mountain was being shut down. But not to be deterred, Gray cleaned up, strapped his equipment back on, skied down the mountain and finished in the parking lot from memory.

Gray’s work is heavy impasto, he layers thick energetic strokes of paint on the canvas with his palette knife. His work, while remaining representational, draws on influences from the texture and lines of post impressionism and abstract expressionism. But the main inspiration for his work has always been the landscape and the connection he has to these places.

“One thought that I often have while I am outside painting and perhaps best describes what I’m striving for: I take a deep breath,” he says. “The kind of breath where you drink in everything beautiful about the place. It just fills you up. The smells, the sounds. Then, I slowly exhale, but I exhale onto the canvas. That is what I try to do when I am out painting.” | ayearintahoe.com