Painter Dustin Tidwell is the first artist to be featured in a series of Salida-grown talent whose artwork will be exhibited in Colorado Springs’ historic City Hall. Tidwell’s art will be displayed through Jan. 7.
Previously a Denver resident, Tidwell was told he was dying and “didn’t have much time left.” Refusing to accept this prognosis, he returned to his mountain roots and moved his family to Salida, where he was introduced to the idea of “healing through art.”
Tidwell conceptualizes “painted medicine” as a philosophy of simplicity that resulted through “a ride called life.” Instead of using traditional Western medicine, he turned to ancient ways of mending. Tidwell sees his art as the outward expression of this internal healing process. He said he found solace in meditation and mantras such as “I will survive,” “Get over it,” and “Forgive them,” which have inspired his work and revitalized his health.
Tidwell describes his paintings as “abstract imagery of the Awakening” that, along with his reaction to the Dakota Access Pipeline conflict manifested in his series The Awakening of the Seventh Generation. Tidwell references the seventh generation of people to come after the legendary Battle of Wounded Knee, in which more than 150 Lakota people died at the hands of the United States Cavalry. Tidwell expresses a call for this new generation to “be the healers.”
A proponent of protecting sacred lands and people, Tidwell painted “Silver Bull” as part of this series. It depicts a charging buffalo on a red-streaked background of pain and represents how Tidwell was not there physically to stand with others at Standing Rock but was there in spirit.
His favorite painting, “Her Courage,” is a colorful portrait of a female staring straight into the viewer’s eyes and holding her head up in a strong and defiant pose. The painting is a tribute to the strength of a female friend who “took her power back” after being sexually assaulted by taking the perpetrator to court. Tidwell said she is “a huge role model of mine, a hero.” This painting was the first in his Waking of the Divine Feminine series. Tidwell’s current artistic theme is female empowerment.
More information about Tidwell is available at PaintedMedicine.com. He also hosts Sunny Side Up on Wednesdays from 8 to 9 a.m. and Art Matters, Wednesdays from 9 to 10 a.m. on Salida’s community radio station, KHEN 106.9 FM.
The Colorado Springs City Hall art show is located at 107 N. Nevada Ave., No. 300. The artist series continues after Jan. 7 with works by Salida artist James Brown.