The Spanish conquest and settlement of the Southwest initiated a complex cultural interchange between the Spanish settlers and Native Americans. Since then, the lives of the Native Americans, the Spaniards, and the Angelos or Americans have been intertwined.

The stark beauty of the Southwest mountains and deserts has attracted many artists. Painters, sculptors, and potters come to study and to work. Often they use Spanish and Indian motifs in new ways, turning age-old patterns into work that is modern and fresh

Nature is a starting point for most contemporary Southwest landscape artists. With little commonality in style or subject matter, they pursue varied approaches in their work and choice of media. Some work with overtly Western motifs: cowboys, mountain men, settlers, pioneer women, and proud, loincloth-clad Native Americans. Others reflect the indigenous art that had flourished for centuries. Then there are the Southwestern artists who do not fit easily into any category.

E. Ashley Rooney's intent in undertaking Contemporary Art of the Southwest (Schiffer 2014) was to take a fresh look at the magical and insightful ways in which the area's artists have interpreted life in this region with its retirees and laid-back nature lovers. How does their art portray living in this quiet, ageless landscape with its aggressive solitude? How do they look at this arid region with its heightened clarity of light? The richly illustrated book has a foreword written by Julie Sasse, Chief Curator and Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Tucson Museum of Art.

Solo show "Subliminal Memory" at Center For Contemporary Art, on August 2014.