When Dallas-based fine artist Stephen Selzler moved to Hot Springs and chose to paint a few Mountain Valley iconic green glass bottles for the Justus Fine Art Gallery, we were blown away. Selzler, who draws inspiration from Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Norman Rockwell, said the colorful works of art “commemorate one of the oldest product marques exported by this city and its venerated mineral waters.” We like to note he painted one of Mountain Valley’s sparkling spring waters. A natural seltzer by Selzler? Sounds refreshingly beautiful to us.
Read more about Selzler's paintings, in his own words, below.
Can you tell us more about the paintings?
I use a mix of mediums which include giclee, acrylic, dry mediums (charcoal and pastel), pen+ink, spray paints, and poured epoxy resin. I try and work in a way that uses maximum color and contrast in a way that invokes a cheerful, celebratory palette. Especially when I work with product brands and merchandise, I want my work to be bright and enthusiastic without being pigeonholed as Pop Art, per se.
Obviously these pieces are a departure from your usual paintings featuring automobiles, how did you come to create the Mountain Valley paintings?
I lead with automotive work as the crux of my focus, only because cars were my first love. Since I've completed my first decade out of college in a stint of advertising and branding, I've developed an affinity of producing work as a commercial artist in a way that celebrates brands, and their products, in a way that uplifts their brand persona ..... art has a funny way of doing that. My family and I purchased and renovated a vacation home here in Hot Springs, so the Mountain Valley name has snuck into my awareness of the area's regional fame. I plan on doing various other works that venerate the traditions, attractions, and household names rooted in Hot Springs as well, and Mountain Valley just so happened to be my first choice in the effort!
What inspired you about the Mountain Valley brand?
Obviously, brands with this kind of lineage have a lot of history to wade through when finding inspiration for artistic interpretations. Being a century-and-a-half old, Mountain Valley is one of those product families that have many iterations of bottling vessels and label styles, for instance, which intrigues me as an artist, branding specialist, and graphic designer. There's a juxtaposition that I like to draw between the vintage and modern labels, which makes for great material in my particular style.
Tell us about your time in Hot Springs.
We're Dallasites, which gives us little opportunity to enjoy rolling hills and secluded nature. Dallas is awesome and we love it here, but our family is always looking for places to escape to.
Hot Springs has this balance between historic, small-town charm and lush refuge, removed from big city life. It's friendly, approachable, and has just enough grit to make things interesting, and that includes a historic industrial background which is so different than truly small towns that rely on certain cottage industries and tourism.