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Desert Mystic: The Paintings of John Simpkins

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Some artists apply their craft to make a living. Some pay attention to their creative spirit on Sundays, in the spare room, with the good light. And then there are some artists who seemingly walk through the world with creativity and life dripping from their very essence, applying beauty to every moment of their existence. John Simpkins is one of those artists. To be around the man and his work feels like being captured in a life of art itself. I know this from following him on Facebook (more on that later).

This month, The High Desert Museum will exhibit Simpkins' new work. For the last seven years he's been living in the Old Andrews Schoolhouse in the Alvord Desert, painting large canvases featuring the landscape and its inhabitants, alone except for the companionship of his standard poodle, Ella.

Simpkins' work is often magical—filled with images of animals dressed as monks and often surrounded by coded messages, perhaps himself in one corner, or the small image of the United States marking the back of a coyote. These small, fine details are mesmerizing, the layers of paint and color and meaning in the very large canvases filled with story and myth.

Simpkins uses Facebook to reach out to the world on a daily basis, often showing work in progress, or sharing a daily photograph from his morning walk with Ella, or smaller paintings he's creating on the tops of cigar boxes—which often comment on current politics. Simpkins' beautiful meditations on life and the way he shares his slow days are inspiring, offering perspective and breadth and the reminder that there's magic living in the world, right here in Oregon.

John Simpkins
Sat. Oct. 27-Tues. Feb 19
High Desert Museum
59800 Hwy. 97, Bend
Johnsimpkins.com
Highdesertmuseum.org

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