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The Suburbanite
  • Surreal landscapes a departure for Steve Ehret

  • Painter Steve Ehret tries something new with landscapes

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    A skilled street artist, Steve Ehret can cover a vast wall with an eye-popping mural of cartoonish creatures in just a day or two.
     
    But Ehret, 27, also does gallery shows of his fanciful work, the newest being a solo exhibition of oil-painted landscapes titled “Eco.” It opens from 6 to 10 tonight at Translations Gallery at 332 Cleveland Ave. NW in downtown Canton. The 12 paintings, which have a richly colored, surreal beauty and a Tolkien-esque feel, range in size from 18 by 24 inches to 3 by 5 feet.
     
    Q. Your artwork usually is filled with quirky monsters. Are they hiding in these new paintings?
    A. “The characters are around. Hiding, peeking around corners or soaking in the swamp. I wanted it to look as if National Geographic showed up attempting to catch some of these creatures in their natural habitat but they were camera-shy for the most part.”
     
    Q. Your new work seems more lush and painterly than ever. Was it more painstaking and time-consuming?
    A. “Everything I paint seems to get complicated and takes the majority of my awake life to complete. I often start having a lot of nightmares due to stressing out about what I might be working on.”
     
    Q. What inspired these unusual landscapes?
    A. “Over the last year or two I have been slowly doing my homework on my surroundings while out (running) on the trails. I have always been moved by the changing of the seasons and because I run year-round, it really creeps into my work. The shapes, colors, formations. The way the land just bends, rolls and moves. The sky in the morning or the way the canal looks after a heavy rain. I collect all these images mentally and then take them home with me to use later on in my own way. Bend, contort and melt them down into some sort of my own stew. Almost abstractly, not in the way a realist painter would portray them.”
     
    Q. Is it good for you as an artist to challenge yourself?
    A. “It was both refreshing and scary to jump into this work head-first. I had a lot of fun just building these environments. Just having the freedom to build some bridges or a construct a diving board out of scrap wood. Catch things on fire or make a giant sink hole.”