I don’t think I understood why I wear Hawaiian shirts until I met Lisa Rosenmeier. I have a closet full of flowery, aloha button-downs. And as long as it’s nice out, I wear them.
Rosenmeir, a painter, doesn’t share my sartorial preference. But she sure loves color. An artist from Southern Utah, land of bright colors, her work explains my kitchy collection.
“I would rather give society happiness,” she says. “I like for things to be happier and not as sad and depressing. There’s a lot of things in our lives that can bring a person down.”
Color is happiness. I don’t know why. Perhaps science can explain it. But as long as I can dress myself in it, give me a thrift shop and turn up the volume. Color is loudness, too.
And lately, what Rosenmeier’s been shouting about in her work is individuality. Her latest series, 13 colorful works made over this past year, is based on photos of running shoes.
Cast off the feet hurriedly or neatly arranged, outdoors or indoors, with or without socks or other shoes, the way we keep shoes is, well, I bet you know how your spouse does it!
“I think it’s real interesting how each and every person has their own individual mark in the way they leave something behind,” she says.
Put me in the lined up, all facing the same way, no that sock goes in the dirty clothes and there are only two acceptable places in this house for shoes to go mister category.
I don’t think I could be married to any other category. Rosenmeier got the idea to do the series, “A Mile in My Shoes,” after becoming an avid runner herself a few years ago.
“When the head gets too cluttered, when you’re out there running, you don’t have the energy for all that extra thought,” she says. “It helps you clarify and break things down.”
Her own life has clarified a bit in the past few years. We didn’t go into it much. But she’s divorced and remarried and changed time zones and jobs. With all that, her art changed.
“The artwork got tighter, things got more defined,” she says. “Certain background imagery was eliminated completely. It’s a bit more simplified in what I’m trying to say.”
I love the heavy line, the clear delineation between colors. And who doesn’t love pets? One of her paintings shows a furry white thing waiting to be loved after an owner’s run.
Rosenmeier paints pets as part of her day-to-day work. She takes commissions from loving owners and has become well known as a portraitist of four-legged Fidos and Fluffies.
Her next project, “365,” has her going to the Humane Society every day. She’s taking a picture of all the occupants of a single dog cage and a single cat cage over a year’s time.
“After a while, you get used to seeing them, especially if they’ve been there a while,” she says of the project, about 40 days in. “Then one day, you show up and they’re not there.”
When the year is up, she’ll have painted each of those animals. And the eventual exhibit will say how and why they entered and left the cage – surrender, adoption or otherwise.
It’s a brave thing to do. Most of us just look the other way. Giving those shelter dogs and cats the bright, colorful Hawaiian treatment certainly gives me that painted sunset feeling.
And, as long as it’s running season, between the Rock & Roll Marathon and the Bridge Run, go check out “A Mile in My Shoes” at Sentient Bean through November. Aloha!
You can see Lisa Rosenmeir’s work at LisaRosenmeier.com.