Rick Newton’s stark, detailed landscapes are full of Florida imagery: native Slash Pine trees, golf courses and Disney landmarks. Realistic but dreamlike at the same time, they look like futuristic scenery from an elaborate sci-fi film.
We’re excited and honored Rick will be having a solo exhibition at design sublime this November. Rick creates his paintings and collages from his studio right outside his home in West Palm Beach. We caught up with him there and talked about his work.
Where did you grow up?
I was born in West Palm Beach and grew up in Juno Beach. Except for five years I attended college in Boston, I have lived in south Florida all my life.
Florida has probably changed a lot since you were a child.
Yes, a lot! Development and a tremendous increase in population are the most profound changes in Florida during my lifetime.
I think my work, though, is about a change worldwide. I use Florida as the location of my paintings because it’s the environment that’s most personal to me as a native Floridian.
Your paintings are so meticulously painted, they look like they take forever to make. How long does it take you to create a painting?
It typically takes two or three months to complete a painting.
How do your collages relate to your paintings?
I take prints of my existing paintings and cut out pieces or areas I think are more successful, and reconfigure them to make new work. Basically, my collages are my paintings deconstructed and reassembled. They allow me to develop ideas much faster and take larger risks in my work.
The imagery you use in your paintings is distinctly Floridian. What fascinates you so much about Florida?
Florida landscape is a large part of my work because it has been a large part of my experience growing up as a native Floridian. The Kennedy Space Center, Disney’s monorail and geodesic Spaceship Earth symbolize a sense of hope for the future. I use them in my work to juxtapose that hope with a post-apocalyptic world seemingly devoid of human inhabitants.
I use stone crabs – a symbol of Florida’s sea life – to illustrate even further the absence of human life. Crabs are on the lower tier of our current food chain. In my work they have reversed that role and have become the human presence.