Without the aid of a computer or camera, Rackstraw Downes sets up his easel in overlooked places from cities to deserts and paints as far as he can with gem-like detail. Considered a master of the contemporary American landscape, Downes has painted subway underpasses, barbed wire fences, corrugated metal farm buildings, and landfills. He is fascinated by what he feels is the “magic” of these places and, as he explains, the “incredible adaptation on the part of the wildlife” to the manmade. His often published essay Turning the Head in Empirical Space discusses the comprehensive view that is the subject of his painting. Downes was a 2009 MacArthur Fellow.