Sean Diediker has always had a connection with New Mexico.
Though he was raised in California, he spent a few years in Farmington. His grandfather also owned a trading post in Star Lake.
“(My grandpa) spoke fluent Navajo,” Diediker says. “He learned it so he could make deals with the artists. I lived in Farmington until I was 8. The cultural influence has always been a factor. While I’m a white guy in the suburbs of Utah now, I get the chance to tell stories through my travels.”
It was his time in New Mexico and his love for travel that took him to host the travel TV series “Canvasing the World with Sean Diediker.”
He says the series is a modern-day marriage of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and “Humans of New York,” as he explores the interplay between art and the human condition.
Diediker is an artist whose work appears in museums and galleries around the world. Included in his commissions is a portrait of President Barack Obama. He has works on display at Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe.
“You might say my work has always been directly affected by where I am living: the people, the landscape, the things I see every day,” he says. “I enjoy observing the stimulus and reaction of different human situations. Environment should effect an artist’s work; if it doesn’t, you’re painting decorations.”
In the series, he goes on adventures to explore creativity, experience the people and reveal places that spark inspiration for his original paintings.
“The idea for the series was sparked when the (digital single-lens reflex camera) DSLR camera could take a high enough resolution for video,” he says. “I could also have it in my backpack as I would be out on the road and find people to paint their stories.”
The current season sees Diediker travel to Costa Rica, Paris, Australia, Indonesia, Germany, Patagonia. He’s also done an episode in Utah, California and Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe episode airs at 8 a.m., 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15, on New Mexico PBS, channel 5.5.
Diediker and his crew follow a four-part process in making the series.
The first is traveling to a destination and immersing themselves into local culture.
He then works with Bruce Royer, a veteran filmmaker/producer, and their team to pursue the most inspiring leads.
For every episode, Diediker develops an original painting influenced by the people and his travels.
The final step sees Diediker and the team crafting the human interest story. He unveils the painting at the end.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into an episode,” he says. “For the episodes in Paris and Australia, I lived there for months and immersed myself into the culture there.”
With the Santa Fe show, Diediker spent two weeks with his production crew.
He walked along Canyon Road and found the inspiration behind what would become “Medicine Man.”
“I gravitate towards more creatives,” he says. “Whether it’s a musician, writer or scientist. The stories that each person has is wonderful. As we peel back the layers, it connects us more. That’s what the show is about.”
Diediker never planned for a career in front of the camera – but he’s comfortable there because the stories are first.
He says the most difficult part is gaining the trust of each person.
“I think being a painter opens a lot of the doors,” he says. “When someone sees me as an artist, I become a priest in a way where they will open up. I nod my head as I listen to them and the stories reveal themselves.”
Diediker says the second season is nearly complete and will be airing soon.