By Donna Poulton
Brian Cobble’s (1953-) photo-realist pastels are situated in locations as diverse as southern Utah's red rock country and sophisticated upscale department store windows in New York City, but it was his depictions of small-town America that first caught my attention. Cobble focuses on vernacular elements: a water tower, grain silos reflected in a store window, kitchy curios (a hobby craft donkey and tulips) in the front yard, the garden hose, curtained windows of well kept homes — all elements that comprise the infrastructure and personality of small towns found anywhere in America, but especially in the west.
While evidence of human endeavor is obvious, Cobble’s images are unpopulated; an edgy silence and sober clarity pervade the small town scenes. In “Prom Nite,” the mannequins act on layers of shared memory of small town life holding the promise of youth suggested by the title, but also evoking tension and ambiguity inherent in a plastic model of perfection and its connotation for the persona of a community.
“…The United States is so large and so diverse … that one is often both awed and spooked by its landscapes. This has always made me approach landscape painting with a sense of respect, and with an eye out for the surreal, the mystical, or the just plain quirky, things not hard to find if you’re looking for them.” — Brian Cobble