Eisenach’s work depicts the ‘human condition’
Steamboat Springs — Barry Eisenach had an idea for a portrait of a dancer in his head.
“They work so hard and by the end of the day they are so exhausted,” he said. “They take off their shoes and their feet look like a bag of hammers. I know NFL guys who wouldn’t put their shoes back on if they looked like that, but these dancers do.”
The sculpture, as he pictured it, would be of a woman untying her shoe. Her back would be bent from exhaustion; she would be leaning her whole body weight on her knee.
But when Eisenach found a dancer to model for the piece, she refused to pose with her spine bent.
“She told me, ‘I would never sit like that.’ She sat down and started untying her shoe, but her posture was perfect,” Eisenach said. “You learn a lot from your models.”
In the end, the sculpture tells a much different story than the one Eisenach originally intended.
The piece is full of rigid triangular lines formed by her body. The dancer is tired but proud.
The juxtaposition of the emotion and the moment is a common theme in his work.
The painting “El Cementario de Coin” is a snapshot of an old man sitting in the rain on the steps of a memorial. The man is like a photograph placed on the paint-stroke stone wall
separating him from a cemetery beyond.
At first, the scene has a melancholy, waiting-for-death tone. But then the viewer’s eye is drawn to the corner of the painting: Behind the wall is an orange tree full of fruit.
“I saw this on our trip to Spain and I couldn’t wait to get home and paint it,” he said.
Eisenach started sculpting only three years ago, after a career as a graphic designer making catalogues, logos and illustrations for large clients.
He tried casting several bronze pieces after traveling to France and seeing the realistic neoclassic portraits of 17th and 18th centuries. His work was accepted into Loveland’s annual Sculpture in the Park show where the owners of Wild Horse Gallery in Steamboat approached him.
Wild Horse was the first gallery to show his work and remains one of his most loyal supporters, he said.
Anyone walking through the Sheraton lobby has seen his work.
His piece “Legacy,” a depiction of a Native American holding a peace pipe in his hands, towers near the entrance of the Sheraton.
“The pipe is a sacred thing,” he said. “He could be giving it as part of a treaty. He could be giving it to his son or he could be taking it from someone. It depends what preconceptions people bring with them.”
Eisenach chose realism because anyone can connect to his pieces whether they like art or not, he said.
“There are cowboys out there who never think about art, but they see one of my paintings and there is something they can identify with,” he said. “My work is about the human condition.”
He thinks about it every time he starts a painting.
“You start by learning to draw. Then you realize that maybe you have something to say, maybe something universal,” he said. “And then you look for that in what you create.”
In the bronze bust called “Cheyenne Morning,” Eisenach tried to picture what the woman was thinking as she braided her long hair with her eyes closed.
“It is early morning,” he said. “Maybe this is the only time she has to herself all day. Somebody can identify with that.”
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