Quest for the West
New and returning artists set to debut stunning new work at the Quest for the West in Indianapolis.
Western art returns with a vengeance to the Midwest during the Quest for the West exhibition at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. The annual sale brings out some of the top Western artists as they offer major new works at a museum known for its stunning collection.
Events kick off September 7 with an opening reception and a miniature sale, now in its second year as part of the exhibition’s opening weekend. Events continue September 8 with a luncheon and program that will allow participating artists to discuss a work from the museum’s permanent collection. The festivities continue that night with a reception and the intent-to-purchase sale followed by a banquet and awards ceremony. “It’s shaping up to be a great show. We’re very pleased with and excited about the artwork we’re seeing so far. We’re also really excited to see such wonderful participation in our miniature show during its second year,” says Johanna Blume, associate curator of Western art, who adds that she’s seeing some unplanned trends among the works. “We’re seeing some great bison pieces from our wildlife artists, as well as some really great nocturne and snow scenes. Maybe it’s the heat wave, but you can see cold scenes have been seeping into some of the artists’ works. We’re also seeing some great works of women and also by women, as well as women who are depicting strong women, which is really great.”
Artists in the exhibition include Gerald Balciar, Tim Cherry, Glenn Dean, Josh Elliott, Robert Griffing, David Grossmann, Logan Maxwell Hagege, George Hallmark, Jerry Jordan, Mark Maggiori, John Moyers, P.A. Nisbet, Roseta Santiago, Tim Solliday, Andy Thomas and Howard Post, who will also be showing in a solo exhibition, an honor he was given when he was named the Artist of Distinction at last year’s Quest. New artists this year are Brent Cotton, Donna Howell-sickles, Mark Kelso and Terri Kelly Moyers.
Returning artist John Fawcett will be bringing his oil The River’s Clue, which was inspired by history. “More than 400,000 settlers, miners and adventurers made the long and arduous trek from the Midwest to the West Coast between 1840 and the 1860s. There were many hardships along the way due to treacherous terrain, disease, debilitated animals, Indian encounters and broken equipment,” Fawcett says. “One of the common occurrences was for the metal rims on the wooden wheels to fall off due to the wood drying out, or to have the wheels break apart during the rough river crossings. These braves saw the evidence of one such mishap, wondering when this happened and what happened to the passers-by?”
Krystii Melaine will be showing her oil Spirit of the Wolf, which is rendered with a very contemporary background. “A young hunter wears the hide of a wolf to add the power of its hunting skills to his own. He believes that the spirit of the animal remains in the hide. Man and wolf are layered in echoing poses, and both appear to be real, but are they?” says Melaine.
“The man’s belief is as real to him as the wolf appears to us, although parts of the wolf dissolve into the background. Strong colors, layered in textured abstraction, emphasize the opposing horizontals and verticals of the composition. This painting is about what is real, what is true and whether belief matters.”
Landscape painter Jay Moore will be presenting a snow scene, New Calves, that will likely be much needed for viewers after this summer’s heat waves. “I was first drawn to this scene because of the design elements of the rich black of the group of angus cows against the white of the fresh snow, and the flat gray sky,” the Colorado artist says. “However, after looking closer, I noticed the small new calves nestled in the hay on the ground left for them by the rancher. In March, the vulnerable new calves need the extra protection from the elements.”
H. David Wright, who’s known for his mountain man and pioneer scenes, as well as his paintings of Native Americans, will be showing the magnificent portrait Honored Warrior. “Horned headdresses are generally associated with Plains Indians,” he explains. “However, James Adair, a trader who lived with the Southeast Indians for 40 years mentioned Indians wearing buffalo horn head adornment in 1775. My painting is based on that description.”
Returning to the show is Heide Presse, whose scenes of pioneers, including many women, are fan favorites at the show. She will be presenting Unexpected Visitors, showing a young woman peering out an open door. “I’ve always noticed the beauty in everyday life…the quiet, fleeting moments that feed our soul,” Presse says. “Like when a beam of sunlight hits an ordinary object just right, then a few minutes later it’s gone. I seek out those moments and create my art based on the memory of them. And, when a person is occupied in ordinary tasks, I love to capture the beauty in their gestures. The woman in this painting is an 1840s pioneer, pausing during her daily chores to peek out at the sound of approaching visitors.”
Another returning artist is C. Michael Dudash, whose work has been in high demand at museum shows. He will be showing Riders of the Canyon, a Native American scene, as well as Goin’ Fer the Gold, which shows a number of figures on horseback and a wagon that is bouncing through the countryside. “When the exciting word of a gold discovery in some distant remote Western valley hit the pioneer airwaves, it didn’t take long for fortune seekers and every imaginable character type to hit the trail,” Dudash says. “Gold fever was real, and the hope of wealth and riches that went along with finding a claim full of ‘the color’ was also real. I thought that the subject of a few of the miners scramblin’ over a ridge into their valley of hope would be fun to paint…and I was right!”
Other works include Hallmark’s Mexican cityscapes and street scenes, magnificent new charcoal works from Rox Corbett, a snowy nocturne by Elliott, colorful works on paper by Howell-sickles and a major new work from Griffing, who paints a local myth from his childhood of a mysterious boat in a Pennsylvanian swamp.
The opening weekend takes place September 7 and 8, but the Quest for the West exhibit will be on view through October 7.
G. Russell Case, Fading Encore, oil, 30 x 40”
Josh Elliott, Under a Full Moon, oil, 20 x 60”
Rox Corbett, Life is Sheep: Navajo Churro, charcoal on cotton rag paper, 15¼ x 29”
David Grossmann, Fields with Quickly Melting Snow, oil on linen panel, 7 x 12”