Col­lec­tor’s Fo­cus: Sport­ing Art

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS - BY JOHN O’HERN

In 1653 Izaak Wal­ton pub­lished The Com­pleat An­gler or the Con­tem­pla­tive Man’s Re­cre­ation. Its sub­head reads, “Be­ing a Dis­course on Fish & Fish­ing, not Un­wor­thy the Pe­rusal of Most An­glers.” He con­tin­ued to add to it for 25 years. Wal­ton’s phi­los­o­phy was, quite sim­ply, “God never did make a more calm, quiet, in­no­cent re­cre­ation than an­gling.”

An­glers find their fa­vorite spots, then fa­mil­iar­ize them­selves with the time of day, tem­per­a­ture and light. They are acutely aware of the en­vi­ron­ment and be­come one with it—a nat­u­ral ex­pe­ri­ence that is be­com­ing un­known to many.

Brett Smith writes, “I have al­ways loved the clas­sic sport­ing scene. One that puts the viewer in a place and time that may be gone but not for­got­ten. These are the places that gen­er­a­tions be­fore us took for granted, that are now be­ing cov­ered over with ur­ban sprawl. In a way, I was doc­u­ment­ing a dy­ing tra­di­tion, a com­mon pas­time, that is suc­cumb­ing to an ur­ban­ized so­ci­ety not in­ter­ested in putting down their tech­no­log­i­cal di­ver­sions.”

In his paint­ing, Spring Creek in Sum­mer, the an­gler’s knowl­edge, skill and pa­tience pay off. Smith be­gan his ca­reer as an il­lus­tra­tor and turned to easel paint­ing 25 years ago. In­spired by Howard Pyle and N.C. Wyeth, he says, “What is im­por­tant in these out­door paint­ings is mood, a feel­ing of how things were and still can be. The idea is to con­vey the nat­u­ral rugged­ness of the sport with­out miss­ing the sub­tle nu­ances that make the ex­pe­ri­ence per­sonal.”

The fruit of the an­gler’s labors is cel­e­brated in Ge­orge Northup’s bronze sculp­tures as in his ta­ble lamp God’s River Brook Trout. He had been a sales ex­ec­u­tive with a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany. Af­ter he mar­ried his wife, Kay, they

moved to Jack­son Hole, Wy­oming, where they ran float trips on the Snake River. He was also a trout fish­ing guide in the sum­mer. Northup (1940-2017) was a fish­ing buddy of the wildlife painter Bob Kuhn and re­called, “Bob and

I were fish­ing for trout on the Snake River. He was won­der­ful at fly fish­ing. I knew some of the hot spots on the river. Our com­rade­ship al­lowed us to en­joy the fish­ing and to talk about tech­ni­cal things. He was only 100 feet away when a group of ot­ters came around the bend and kind of ex­ploded in front of him. He sat down and drew on a nap­kin what they had done. He handed it to me and said ‘Here’s your next sculp­ture.’ I said ‘Why don’t you do it?” But noth­ing ever came of it.”

The moods of the en­vi­ron­ment af­fect the qual­ity of the fish­ing and in­spire the artist to cap­ture them.

Thomas Aquinas Daly’s wa­ter­color, A Light Breeze, re­calls the water­col­ors of fish­er­men in the Adiron­dacks by Winslow Homer. The breeze lightly rip­ples the wa­ter in the low keyed paint­ing of fish­er­men on a lake. For many years Daly worked in the com­mer­cial print­ing busi­ness, turn­ing full time to paint­ing in 1981. His sub­tle paint­ings of the land­scape

are med­i­ta­tive in the way that the sports­man and the artist be­come one with it. Daly writes, “It is never my in­ten­tion to merely de­scribe the phys­i­cal at­tributes of a place. In­stead,

I strive to cap­ture its to­tal essence—the vis­ceral feel­ing that it evokes within me.”

Brent Cot­ton’s Soli­tude of the River epit­o­mizes the feel­ings of Wal­ton and Daly, as well as his own. Like Northup, he was a hunt­ing and fish­ing guide. He now lives in the Bit­ter­root Val­ley of Mon­tana near fine trout streams. Liv­ing briefly in Hawaii where he ex­pe­ri­enced the ef­fects of moist at­mos­phere and back in Mon­tana where he ex­pe­ri­enced the oth­er­worldly ef­fect of the smoke of wild­fires, he turned to the moody, ethe­real style of the 19th­cen­tury lu­min­ists. Un­like many of the lu­min­ists, Cot­ton rev­els in paint and its ap­pli­ca­tion. There is a vi­tal­ity to his med­i­ta­tions.

Through­out the pages of this spe­cial sec­tion, col­lec­tors will find ex­am­ples of sport­ing art from premier Western art gal­leries and artists from across the coun­try.

Chip Brock’s Meat and Pota­toes series il­lus­trates the bounty pro­vided from a day on the hunt. “Two con­stants in my life since I was very young have been hunt­ing and cre­at­ing art. As a re­sult of those two pas­sions, wildlife has gen­er­ally been my fa­vorite sub­ject mat­ter... Two of my new­est pieces meld my love of hunt­ing and paint­ing still lifes,” says Brock. “These paint­ings cel­e­brate the hunt and the amaz­ing ta­ble fare that suc­cess pro­vides.” Dall Sheep, for in­stance, de­picts the skull of a sheep on a hardy ta­ble of scat­tered veg­eta­bles. “I am a life­long hunter,” says C. Ed­ward Anderson, who has been draw­ing and paint­ing for more than 25 years. His sport­ing art of­ten fea­tures the ca­nine part­ners that team up with hunters. “I be­lieve that hunt­ing is a way of know­ing na­ture, and dogs,

with their feet in both worlds, me­di­ate the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween hu­man and na­ture,” says Anderson. “I try to cap­ture this in­ter­ac­tion in art and show the role gun­dogs play in the goal is to show the viewer some­thing that they will rec­og­nize as true, some­thing that when they see it they will say, ‘Yes, I’ve been there.’”

Dou­glas B. Clark also shares a love of the outdoors and an ap­pre­ci­a­tion for sport­ing dog breeds. “The Labrador retriever is a fa­vorite breed of mine as both a hunt­ing com­pan­ion and a sculp­ture sub­ject. My own labs and those of friends and fam­ily serve as my mod­els,” says the artist, whose bronze on gran­ite sculp­ture de­picts a lab ready to catch an ob­ject com­ing its way.

The South­east­ern Wildlife Ex­po­si­tion, Fe­bru­ary 15 to 17, 2019, rep­re­sents a world renowned col­lec­tion of wildlife art from nearly 100 painters and sculp­tors. The 2019

featured artist is Lou Pasqua, and guest artists in­clude Sandy Scott and Wal­ter Ma­tia. “SEWE wel­comes 20 new artists with works rang­ing from an­cient cave art to mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tions of sport­ing art,” shares SEWE art cu­ra­tor Natalie Hen­der­son.

The wa­ter­color art of Charleston-based artist Paul Puckett is pow­er­ful—nat­u­ral splotches of wa­ter can be seen in his fish­ing scenes and other de­pic­tions of bod­ies of wa­ter, adding a layer of in­trigue. “Any­time I am on the wa­ter or in the field, there is not a mo­ment that goes by where I don’t fore­see some sort of pic­ture that can and should be made,” says Puckett. Turn­around Time and Last Boat Out both fea­ture omi­nous storm clouds loom­ing over the lake dur­ing a fish­ing ex­cur­sion.

“Sport­ing art, like Western art, is art that tells a story. It tells the story of tra­di­tions, pas­times and ac­tiv­i­ties that are shared and passed down among fam­i­lies as well as to peo­ple new to the sports,” says Clark. “I would ad­vise col­lec­tors to se­lect art that speaks to them and that helps them to share and tell

their own sto­ries.”

2. Ger­ald Peters Gallery, A Light Breeze, wa­ter­color, 10¼ x 13", by Thomas Aquinas Daly. 3. Sports­man’s Gallery & Paderewski Fine Art, Spring Creek in Sum­mer, oil on linen, 14 x 18", by Brett Smith. 4. In­sight Gallery, God’s River Brook Trout, bronze, 25 x 33 x 15", by Ge­orge Northup.5. South­east­ern Wildlife Ex­po­si­tion, On the Move, acrylic on board, 16 x 25", by Lou Pasqua.

13. Paul Puckett, Turn­around Time, wa­ter­color, 14 x 20" 14. Paul Puckett, Last Boat Out,wa­ter­color, 15 x 22" 15. C. Ed­ward Anderson, Car­ried on the Wind, oil, 11 x 14"16. Dou­glas B. Clark, In­com­ing!, bronze on gran­ite, ed. of 75, 4 x 5 x 3" 17. Jay Moore, Nar­row Es­cape, oil on linen, 8 x 10"

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