There is what we have in the moment and there are the moments we carry with us. These memories are singular, they are our own and define us as much as we define them. Shawn Watrous' paintings are a reflection of the visual experience of his youth and the distance that now exists, both in terms of time and space. We are alone in our understanding of ourselves and in our perception of the world we live in.
Watrous’ childhood was spent in San Mateo California, just south of San Francisco and just north of Silicon Valley. It is a place that has undergone great economic change over the last few decades as well as continual development and massive population growth. There are places unrecognizable to him now, but there are places stuck in time where the view remains unchanged. The palms still stand above the small stuccoed houses, regardless if the mundane now cost a million dollars. His recent paintings come from a time of going back to where he is from and walking and looking. They capture a fragment of the past not only as it was but also as it is for him now. The paintings demonstrate how what is familiar can also be closed off. We cannot really return to what we remember and when we try, our experience is altered by nostalgia and emotion. There’s a bit of an undoing that takes place with that kind of experience. Painting is a way for Watrous to take that alteration of reality and make a visible expression of both what he sees and what he feels.
Watrous was born in San Francisco, CA, in 1977 and was raised on the San Francisco Peninsula surrounded by ocean, bay, mountains, and urban sprawl. Images from this part of the country are imprinted in his mind and continue to inform his artwork and aesthetic interests. He received his BFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 2002 and his MFA from Kent State University, Kent Ohio in 2013. He currently resides in Western Pennsylvania.
View Shawn Watrous' 2019 BoxHeart Exhibition, Palms, on Artsy!