Becky Wareing Steele is 31 years old, but she distinctly remembers her childhood family vacations. “We took camping trips twice a year as a family,” the Denver-based artist says. “As I’ve grown older, I’ve realize how special those moments were—but when I was younger, I was focused on how much I was missing out on by being with my family.”
That sentiment—the changing dynamics of family vacations as a child enters his or her teenage years—is at the heart of her latest exhibition. Family Vacation…Ughhh is on view at Lowbrow art store from May 1 through June 2. The five small dioramas depict scenes in different national parks (Rocky Mountain National Park is pictured above), backstories included via snarky captions Steele wrote. The characters (model train pieces that stand a little taller than a fingernail) are completely outsized by the landscape surrounding them, an attempt to visually portray how dramatic teens can be—and how unimportant those moments are in the grand scheme of life. “At the time, everything seems so tragic,” Steele says.
Miniatures are a familiar medium for Steele who has had a product line of buttons, crystals, and miniscule (often wearable) dioramas since she was 19. Family Vacation is her first foray into landscapes. Because she knew the dioramas would be wall-mounted, she had to keep her materials light. The landscapes—from the red rocks of Arches National Park to the massive trees of Sequoia National Park—are all made of styrofoam, which was then carved and painted by hand. Each is set against a background stock image of the park, making them all the more familiar to those of us who also remember driving our parents mad on every trip.
Double Duty: The opening of Steele’s show doubles as the grand re-opening party for Lowbrow’s new—and slightly larger—location at 38 Broadway. Beyond checking out Steele’s works, attendees will enjoy adult beverages and can participate in giveaways and raffles.