Brush with His­tory

A new art book cel­e­brat­ing the work of Mor­gan Weistling fea­tures the artist’s un­mis­tak­able brand of sto­ry­telling.

Western Art Collector - - WESTERN ART NEWS -

Pain­ter Mor­gan Weistling’s works tell sto­ries big and small. The small ones are right there on the can­vas as his pi­o­neer and Western fig­ures go about their daily lives amid whole­some scenes on coun­try farms or small Old West towns. The big sto­ries take place else­where, on other paint­ings, and when as­sem­bled to­gether re­veal larger nar­ra­tives as char­ac­ters grow up, take on new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and find them­selves in new set­tings.

These two sto­ry­telling as­pects of Weistling’s paint­ings can be clearly seen in a new book about his ca­reer, his work and his long his­tory with art. The book, A Brush With His­tory: The Paint­ings of Mor­gan Weistling, is avail­able now and fea­tures 182 full-color plates of his works, as well as looks into his early illustration ca­reer, his in­spi­ra­tions and his artis­tic fam­ily, which in­cludes wife Joann Per­alta and daugh­ter Brit­tany Weistling.

The fore­word of the book is writ­ten by pain­ter Howard Terp­n­ing, who first met Weistling in 1999. “The first time I saw an orig­i­nal paint­ing by Mor­gan Weistling was at a dealer sem­i­nar in Salt Lake City, Utah. The paint­ing was ti­tled Goats and Roses. It was truly a beau­ti­ful work, and I thought to my­self, ‘My gosh where did this guy come from, and where has he been?’” Terp­n­ing writes in the book. “…There is hu­man­ity in Mor­gan’s work and a sen­si­tiv­ity that is so ev­i­dent. His work is in­stantly rec­og­niz­able from across the room. In or­der to paint a sub­ject well, I be­lieve that the artist must be emo­tion­ally con­nected to his or her sub­ject mat­ter. Paint­ing a sub­ject be­cause it’s ex­pe­di­ent—it’s what the col­lec­tor is buy­ing at the mo­ment—will show in the end re­sult. Mor­gan ob­vi­ously feels that con­nec­tion to his mod­els, and he treats his sub­jects with re­spect on can­vas. He is in com­plete com­mand of his craft.”

Some of the works fea­tured in A Brush With His­tory in­clude some of his most fa­mous paint­ings, such as In­dian Sto­ries, the cover im­age which shows a grand­fa­ther shar­ing an ad­ven­ture tale by the fire­place; The Quilt­ing Bee, which de­picts nearly a dozen women work­ing on a quilt; Where Sto­ries Were Told, show­ing a coun­try store and its cus­tomers; and The Dance, which won the Prix de West mu­seum pur­chase award in 2001 at the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western Her­itage Mu­seum. Ea­gle-eyed view­ers will no­tice re­peat­ing mo­tifs—sto­ries, char­ac­ters, items on shelves or ta­bles and even pet cats—that pop up again and again in the artist’s works, each one ad­vanc­ing a dif­fer­ent story within the world Weistling has cre­ated.

“I have al­ways said that if it weren’t for know­ing some­one was go­ing to see what I was cre­at­ing, I would not have the de­sire to put all the ef­fort re­quired to pro­duce it. I freely ad­mit that I do these paint­ings for oth­ers to see—to com­mu­ni­cate to some­one else a feel­ing, a mood, and a story that means some­thing to me,” Weistling writes in the book. “This tal­ent to paint is a gift, and it is meant to be shared. Merely pro­duc­ing the art is not enough. It’s that vul­ner­a­bil­ity of show­ing it to some­one for the first time that makes it com­plete. There­fore, paint­ing is a lan­guage for me and re­quires some­one will­ing to lis­ten.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about the artist or the book, visit www.mor­gan­weistling.com.

A look in­side Mor­gan Weistling’s new book.

A Brush With His­tory: The Paint­ings of Mor­gan Weistling, pub­lished by Black­ham­mer Press.

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