CREA­TURE CON­CEPTS

Western Art Collector - - COLLECTOR''S FOCUS WILDLIFE ART - BY JOHN O’HERN

Sig­nal Fire is an or­ga­ni­za­tion in Port­land, Ore­gon, that “pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties for artists and cre­ative ag­i­ta­tors to en­gage with our re­main­ing wild­lands. Our projects foster re­silience, cre­ative en­ergy and in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary col­lab­o­ra­tion. We uti­lize pub­lic lands to ad­vo­cate for eq­ui­table ac­cess, and pro­tec­tion of, wild and open places.” Last year, Zoe Keller par­tic­i­pated in the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Wide Open Stu­dios visit to Klamath Na­tional For­est in Ore­gon. One of the draw­ings in­spired by the trip is River Ot­ter, show­ing the semi­aquatic mam­mal swim­ming among the other species that in­habit its world. Armed with field notes and pho­tographs as well as a li­brary of field guides, Keller cre­ates in­tri­cately de­tailed graphite draw­ings of the in­ter­re­la­tion­ships of flora and fauna some­times up to five feet wide. She of­ten con­cen­trates on en­dan­gered or even ex­tinct species. Al­though the ot­ter isn’t en­dan­gered, it is threat­ened by the di­min­ish­ment of its habi­tat and by wa­ter pol­lu­tion.

Ospreys were threat­ened with ex­tinc­tion in the 1950s and ’60s be­cause of the wide­spread use of DDT. Af­ter the ban­ning of the in­sec­ti­cide, the birds of prey made a come­back. Ospreys hover high over shal­low wa­ter and plunge talon first to cap­ture fish.

Les Per­hacs is a sculp­tor whose work com­fort­ably strad­dles re­al­ism and ab­strac­tion. He says, “Over the past 50 years, I’ve cre­ated

prob­a­bly a thou­sand works...al­ways in­spired by na­ture due to my end­less fas­ci­na­tion but al­ways com­pelled to go be­yond ob­vi­ous re­al­ism. Dis­till­ing the an­i­mal form and work­ing on sur­face tex­tures—de­cid­ing what to leave in and what to leave out—al­ways with mo­tion in mind.”

His bronze Osprey re­tains his model­ing of the clay and con­tains enough de­tail to cre­ate a con­vinc­ing im­pres­sion of the ma­jes­tic hawk about to cap­ture its prey.

The gyr­fal­con is the largest of the fal­cons and lives in the north­ern re­gions of North Amer­ica, Europe and Asia. It eats pri­mar­ily ptarmi­gan which it cap­tures in mid­flight.

Ron Kingswood learned about na­ture and birds on hunt­ing trips with his fa­ther in north­ern On­tario and con­tin­ues to spend time in the field. For a pe­riod, he painted im­pres­sion­ist ab­strac­tions of the land­scape. He now com­bines those tech­niques with more re­al­is­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tions and a com­mand of color and com­plex com­po­si­tions that cel­e­brate neg­a­tive space. He says, “Na­ture has al­ways been the only teacher, not other in­di­vid­u­als. There is a sin­gle univer­sal con­tent that we use which is shrouded in form. I tend to per­ceive na­ture as form and struc­ture.”

Brian Mash­burn com­bines the in­flu­ences of both his Asian and Amer­i­can her­itage, set­ting re­al­ist rep­re­sen­ta­tions of wildlife in back­grounds that re­call Chi­nese ink draw­ings. He at­tended Chi­nese lan­guage classes as a boy and at­tributes his love of the painted line to that ex­pe­ri­ence.

Buf­falo de­picts an iconic Amer­i­can bi­son against a misty land­scape that re­calls the smog of China and the mists that ap­pear in the moun­tains near his home in North Carolina. The mist barely con­ceals the en­croach­ments of the in­dus­trial world, from rail­road bridges to fac­to­ries.

Through­out this spe­cial sec­tion, col­lec­tors will find wildlife works from a va­ri­ety of tal­ented artists, gal­leries and mu­se­ums.

Wildlife artist Cyn­thie Fisher adores an­i­mals. Ev­ery­thing in her world re­volves around her love and ad­mi­ra­tion for all crea­tures, height­ened in part by her col­lege stud­ies in zo­ol­ogy and wildlife man­age­ment, the artist says. She chooses to share this love through her vi­brant, col­or­ful paint­ings and scratch­boards of species from all cor­ners of the world. “I don’t copy pho­tos but cre­ate my own unique com­po­si­tion that com­ple­ments

what I’m try­ing to de­pict. I be­lieve my col­lec­tors are look­ing for one of two things: a piece of art that rep­re­sents a mem­ory or a wish. And I love be­ing able to ful­fill that for them,” she says.

Trail­side Gal­leries in Jack­son Hole, Wy­oming, has a full sched­ule of events run­ning along­side the an­nual Jack­son Hole Fall Arts Fes­ti­val, which in­cludes dis­plays of an­i­mal art­work. “We al­ways en­deavor to present a strong group­ing of shows that have wide ap­peal to a large seg­ment of art col­lec­tors. Of course, wildlife is a genre that is es­pe­cially in high de­mand here in the Jack­son Hole art mar­ket,” says gallery direc­tor Joan Grif­fith. Artists whose work will be show­cased this fall in­clude Adam Smith, Dustin Van Wechel, Jhenna Quinn Lewis, Sueellen Ross and Mor­gan Weistling.

Cel­e­brat­ing its 37th year this Fe­bru­ary, the South­east­ern Wildlife Ex­po­si­tion

(SEWE), held in Charleston, South Carolina, show­cases fine wildlife and sport­ing art. “The pas­sion­ate ef­fort to pro­mote con­ser­va­tion world­wide through art uni­fies SEWE artists. Our artists are present with their work dur­ing SEWE, a dis­tinct at­tribute of our show that ed­u­cates col­lec­tors about the mean­ing be­hind the work,” says Natalie Hen­der­son, SEWE art cu­ra­tor.

Fea­tur­ing an­i­mal art­work from some of the most prom­i­nent Amer­i­can artists—like Ge­or­gia O’keeffe and John James Audubon—the Na­tional Mu­seum of Wildlife Art wel­comes more than 60,000 vis­i­tors through its doors each year. “The Na­tional Mu­seum of Wildlife Art holds an un­par­al­leled col­lec­tion of fine art de­pict­ing wildlife with a fo­cus on his­toric and con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can and Euro­pean mas­ters,” says Adam Har­ris, Joffa Kerr Chief Cu­ra­tor of Art. The mu­seum, which was founded in 1987, houses more than 5,000 works of wildlife art.

“From fa­mous fig­ures who made their name and rep­u­ta­tion ex­plor­ing the re­gion to wildlife who call the rugged West home, Western art has long paid homage to the peo­ple and an­i­mals that de­fined a na­tion’s

idea of what the Amer­i­can West is and was,” says Emily Wil­son, cu­ra­tor at the

C.M. Rus­sell Mu­seum. The mu­seum houses the col­lec­tion of Leroy Strand, a vet­eran, phi­lan­thropist and avid col­lec­tor of Western art. “The Leroy Strand Col­lec­tion cap­tures the essence of Montana and the Amer­i­can West,” Wil­son says. Wood carver Don Woodard is ex­cited to an­nounce the open­ing of his new art stu­dio and gallery, Don Woodard Art­works, in Broom­field, Colorado. The artist will be cre­at­ing and dis­play­ing orig­i­nal re­lief wood sculp­tures and three-di­men­sional paint­ings, and will also show­case a wide range of ac­com­plished artists, in­clud­ing Don Weller and Ed­ward Aldrich. Af­ter re­tir­ing from a 43year ca­reer de­sign­ing and build­ing ex­hibits, Woodard says he is ex­cited to be a full­time artist, de­vel­op­ing both his own ideas and cre­at­ing com­mis­sioned work for oth­ers.

Moun­tain Trails Gallery Se­dona pro­vides col­lec­tors out­stand­ing wildlife works from top Western artists across the coun­try. “Whether

it’s in our great parks or out in na­ture, a wildlife sighting is up­lift­ing. It brings us in touch with a sense of awe and won­der, how each species has its own sys­tem of sur­vival and thriv­ing. Our wildlife artists seem to cap­ture that per­fect mo­ment of sur­prise or de­light, a regal stance or just the power of na­ture that is ex­pressed in their paint­ings or sculp­ture,” says direc­tor Julie R. Wil­liams. An­other gallery well known for rep­re­sent­ing tal­ented wildlife artists, Wilde Meyer Gallery’s aes­thetic is that of re­al­is­tic an­i­mal por­traits, where the an­i­mal is the pri­mary fo­cus, as well as pieces where crea­tures are blended into their nat­u­ral habi­tats. Many of the artists whose works are dis­played at the gallery cre­ate “ab­stract an­i­mals be­yond re­al­ism with bold col­ors or draw­ing tech­niques, while still show­ing the essence of the an­i­mals they are por­tray­ing,” says gallery owner Betty Wilde.

The art­work of J.C. Fon­tec­chio is that of im­pres­sion­is­tic re­al­ism, with bold brush­strokes that cap­ture the spirit of the fauna she de­picts. “Wildlife artists of­fer up their own vi­sion of the glory that sur­rounds us. The glory may be beau­ti­ful, un­fa­mil­iar, or even harsh, but the

vi­sion these artists present is al­most al­ways real,” she says.

Ger­ald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, houses a va­ri­ety of wildlife art­work from es­teemed artists, in­clud­ing the “col­or­ful bird stud­ies” of English artist Andrew Haslen and the “whim­si­cal sculp­tures of Pere­grine O’gorm­ley,” says Maria Ha­jic, direc­tor of nat­u­ral­ism and con­tem­po­rary art at Ger­ald Peters Gallery. “Diminu­tive in size but not qual­ity, these works will sur­prise and de­light,” says Ha­jic.

“I be­lieve wildlife artists are in­spired by the mag­nif­i­cence of their sub­ject mat­ter. With so many other an­i­mal artists, I share a sense of awe and won­der for these crea­tures,” says Jack­son Hole-based painter Kathryn Mapes Turner, owner of Turner Fine Art. “I feel the wildlife art­work that leaves a last­ing im­pres­sion is work that is in­fused with this rev­er­ence. For me, it is a ges­ture of re­spect to ren­der wildlife with sound pro­por­tions, ac­cu­rate anatomy and a sense of vi­tal­ity.”

Al­though artist Bob Coonts works pri­mar­ily in acrylic to achieve his fan­tas­ti­cal and whim­si­cal wildlife pieces, he oc­ca­sion­ally uses oils, wa­ter­color and pas­tels as well. “I had a nice im­age of this big moose but thought that I would put him into this thicket of flow­ers and scrubs. I de­cided to make an early morn­ing scene,” Coonts says of his acrylic Belly Deep, which de­picts a moose in front of a vi­brant pink sky. “I en­joy the chal­lenge of chang­ing up re­al­ity some in my work,” Coonts adds.

“Sighting dall rams while hik­ing above bar­ren slopes and craggy rocks, watch­ing a gi­ant moose sway to a chal­leng­ing ri­val, watch­ing cari­bou bulls prance across the red au­tumn tun­dra—these are mem­o­ries that in­spire my cre­ativ­ity,” says painter Chip Brock. “Wildlife grabs every­one’s imag­i­na­tion at one time or an­other.” A bear with a sullen ex­pres­sion al­most akin to that of a hu­man be­ing, sits amongst a patch of grass and wild­flow­ers in A Lit­tle Blue. “My pas­sion for art, a fas­ci­na­tion with wildlife and a sport­ing lifestyle have been a part of me since child­hood.”

2. Abend Gallery, Buf­falo, oil, 16 x 20", by Brian Mash­burn. 3. Antler Gallery, River Ot­ter, graphite on pa­per, 28 x 36", by Zoe Keller. 4. Ger­ald Peters Gallery, Osprey, cast bronze, 15½ x 4½ x 43/8", by Les Per­hacs. 5. Trail­side Gal­leries, Above the Glacier - Gyr­fal­con, oil on can­vas, 40 x 38", by Ron Kingswood. 6. The James Mu­seum of Western & Wildlife Art, Elk in Sage, acrylic on can­vas, 36 x 48", by Robert Bate­man. 7. The James Mu­seum of Western & Wildlife Art, Silent Paws, bronze, 20 x 19 x 11", by Ger­ald Bal­ciar.

8. The James Mu­seum of Western & Wildlife Art, Wa­ters Edge, bronze, 42 x 36 x 15", by Walter Ma­tia. 9. Na­tional Mu­seum of Wildlife Art, Chief, acrylic on can­vas, 71 x 98", by Robert Bate­man. Gift of Bir­git & Robert Bate­man. 10. Luke Fra­zier, Chief­tan, oil, 14 x 24" 11. Na­tional Mu­seum of Wildlife Art, Hang­ing Grouse, oil on can­vas, 28 x 20”, by Alexan­der Pope (1849-1924). Cour­tesy JKM Col­lec­tion.

12. Trail­side Gal­leries, A Sea­son of Broth­er­hood, oil, 24 x 48", by Dustin Van Wechel. 13. Trail­side Gal­leries, On­set of Win­ter, acrylic, 28 x 40", by Adam Smith. 14. Na­tional Mu­seum of Wildlife Art, In the For­est, ca. 1880, oil on can­vas, 36 x 26", by Albert Bier­stadt (1830-1902). Cour­tesy JKM Col­lec­tion. 15. Kathryn Mapes Turner, Charmed, oil on board, 12 x 9" 16. Kathryn Mapes Turner, Ursa, oil on linen, 12 x 12" 17. C.M. Rus­sell Mu­seum,Al­pha Buck, poly­chrome bronze, ed. 1 of 15, 28 x 12 x 10", by Ken May­ernik. Cour­tesy the Leroy Strand Col­lec­tion.

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