by Allyson Hogan

Spring burst upon Park City early this year, courtesy of artist Peter Max. His showing at Old Towne Gallery in March was a feast for the senses, his signature style and colors ablaze with near-neon hues. At every turn, atop every surface, and through multiple mediums, Max’s work — both familiar and not — led the eye from one marvel to the next.

Max’s art in the 1960’s and 70’s drew critical, popular and commercial acclaim, buttressing his place in pop culture history. At the time, album covers and concert posters were his canvasses, the brightest of colors his palettes. He introduced us to psychedelic art, visually stimulating an audience for whom first-hand exposure was out of reach. In the decades that followed, Max continued to stun, his abstract expressionism instantly recognizable.

Max’s interpretation of the Masters brought light and freshness to works of Renoir and Degas. His Statue of Liberty series of acrylic paintings reflected his newfound nationalism and showcased the creativity that would eventually grace innumerable American icons. An immigrant himself, Max drew on his personal experiences, expressing them through prisms of radiance and color. As his commercial appeal grew, Max was commissioned for projects from t-shirts to airplanes.

A “meet and greet” with Max revealed a quiet man — ironically dressed in black — whose eyes gleamed when discussing his work. The showing was an art world coup, and a rare, unforgettable opportunity to immerse oneself in his vividly stunning displays.

Gallery strollers delighted at the now-retro marvels that wowed a generation, Max’s creations a visual soundtrack to an era of peace and love. His fame may have begun then, but his ability to remain fresh and relevant since has solidified his ongoing success, a rare feat in the art world. A new generation is now privy to five decades of his trademark style, imbuing light, color and beauty to every blank slate he tackles.

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