Mixed media artist Sybil Hill visits Vail for exhibit | VailDaily.com

Mixed media artist Sybil Hill visits Vail for exhibit

Caramie Schnell
VAIL CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyGail King, Oprah's friend, bought this painting, called "Half Faith," at a gallery in Utah that sells Hill's work during last year's Sundance Festival.

Painter Sybil Hill is trying to move the American flags from front porches to family rooms. The American Legion donated more than 100 feathered and worn flags to her, which she uses to make her artwork.

“I’m preserving them in my own way, by incorporating them into my pieces,” Hill said.

She handles each flag with infinite care, covering it with rice paper before she begins to paint on top of it.

The resulting pieces are very textured and layered.

“People are curious about her pieces because of the texture,” said Rayla Kundolf of Masters Gallery.

The flags, and horses, are both reoccurring themes in Hill’s work.

“The horse is a metaphor for beauty, freedom, mystical thoughts, and also a timeless force of our own spirit,” Hill writes on her artist bio.

While the unique texture initially draws gallery visitors to Hill’s work, they often find a deeper meaning within.

“They love the patriotism and power that the flags represent and then with the image of the horse, that adds to the strength; (it) just resonates with people, not just Americans but people all over the world,” Kundolf said.

“I like the emotional connection that people have with her pieces, the rustic elements and raw honesty in the simple images,” she continued.

Hill will be at Masters Gallery Friday and Saturday for an exhibit of her work. Masters Gallery has carried her work since July; she also has work in galleries-in Dallas, Park City, Utah and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Old wood, from fences and churches, is often the base of Hill’s paintings. She finishes most of her pieces with surfboard resin, giving it a high gloss, chic look. On the back of each piece, she puts a star, a dollar sign and a heart.

“The star is for spirit, the dollar sign is for prosperity and the heart is for love,” Hill said. “They’re simple symbols, but they mean something. I like to put that out there. If you draw a picture of a skull and dark things, you feel darkness coming from it. I really believe that.”

Hill grew up in Dallas and now lives in Carbondale with her 10-year-old daughter.

“We get to see lots of wild life. I saw a golden eagle in my back yard and now I’m painting a bald eagle for the show,” she said.

In her former life, she managed high end retail stores, like Ralph Lauren, in both Aspen and New York City, and was an art dealer.

When her daughter was born, she wanted to be home with her and she soon started painting.

“My work has a lot of Ralph Lauren influence in it,” Hill said. “Watching horses running free, or a flag blowing in the wind, those images moved me throughout my entire life.”

In the last eight years, she’s sold more than 400 paintings, she said.

“They started selling right from the start,” she said. “It was meant to be.”

Recently Hill got a letter from a woman who had bought a painting called “Unconditional Love,” of a mother horse and her mare.

“She bought if for her son who was diagnosed with a rare blood disease. She told me ‘this painting has hung outside of my son’s hospital room and has meant so much to us.’ Her husband was off in the military. Those are the things that make me grateful. I’m able to support myself and I have this amazing freedom to give back. Hopefully everyone one day will find their gift.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or cschnell@vaildaily.com.

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