Col­lec­tor’s Fo­cus: Western Small Works & Minia­tures

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

The thrill of driv­ing up out of the Rio Grande Gorge be­tween Santa Fe and Taos, New Mex­ico, and see­ing the gorge con­tin­u­ing on to­wards Colorado, never lessens. Know­ing that the rift in the earth’s sur­face was caused by the move­ment of tec­tonic plates height­ens the fas­ci­na­tion.

Stephen Magsig paints the light and the de­tails of the canyons of Man­hat­tan and the in­dus­trial land­scape of Detroit. He also paints the rugged land­scape and ex­tra­or­di­nary light of the south­west­ern desert.

“I love the im­me­di­acy of do­ing a small paint­ing,” he says.

His scene, Rio Grande Gorge is 8 by 16 inches, cap­tur­ing the visual majesty in a small for­mat. He has dis­tilled all the visual in­for­ma­tion in what he calls “an econ­omy of means” from his mem­ory of the scene and from his pho­to­graphs.

Kim Case­beer comes from a long line of Kansas farm fam­i­lies and still lives there. She ex­plains her abil­ity to cap­ture a vast scene in a lit­tle space. “I think the sim­plic­ity of the Kansas land­scape has helped me find the essence of other places. I’m able to fo­cus on what’s im­por­tant in a com­po­si­tion.” Ari­zona Sky­line, at 12 by 12 inches, is the essence of a South­west­ern sun­set lo­cal­ized by the in­clu­sion of the saguaro cac­tus, which grows at lower al­ti­tudes in south­west­ern Ari­zona and north­west­ern Mex­ico as well as parts of Cal­i­for­nia.

Brent Cot­ton grew up on a cat­tle ranch and lives in Mon­tana. A so­journ to Maui in­tro­duced him to the at­mo­spheric ef­fects of mois­ture in the air and in­spired him to paint with more “mood and drama.” An avid fly fish­er­man, he is well ac­quainted with the times of day, light con­di­tions and other vari­ables than can af­fect his an­gling suc­cess. His aware­ness also al­lows him to cap­ture the sub­tleties as well as the drama of a par­tic­u­lar mo­ment in his paint­ings. He calls River Mist (6 inches square) a “lit­tle tonal­ist sketch.” It re­calls Whistler’s 19th cen­tury tonal­ist noc­turnes with its sub­tle, lim­ited palette and, on closer ex­am­i­na­tion, the sheer joy of ap­ply­ing paint.

Small works al­ways of­fer the op­por­tu­nity to ac­quire a paint­ing or sculp­ture by an ad­mired artist at a price be­low that of larger works. Just as draw­ings can em­body the in­sights and skill of an artist, small works of­fer a more in­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ence.

Steve Kestrel sculpts an­i­mals in the hard­est of stones of­ten brought up from a nearby creek bed. Sen­si­tive and finely de­tailed, they show an in­ti­mate knowl­edge of an­i­mal habit and habi­tat. Even more in­ti­mate is a small bi­son head cast in bronze as a slide for a bolo tie of Colorado horse­hair. He stud­ied nat­u­ral sciences and sculp­ture in col­lege. His in­ter­est in pa­le­on­tol­ogy and zo­ol­ogy in­spires his sculp­ture from a 90-inch bronze bi­son at the Wi­chita Art Mu­seum to this 3½-inch bi­son head bolo you can wear around your neck.

In the pages of this spe­cial sec­tion, col­lec­tors can browse a va­ri­ety of small works and learn about the gal­leries and mu­se­ums that house these Western minia­tures, as well as the artists who cre­ate them.

Texas-based artist Kathy Tate feels that ev­ery paint­ing should tell a story. Once Some­one’s Dream, which re­cently won the John Steven Jones Pur­chase Award at the Bosque Art Clas­sic, tells the story of a “dairy­man or farmer thinks that ‘next year’ they’ll fi­nally ‘get ahead’...their dream of do­ing what they love and ac­tu­ally mak­ing a profit. Who­ever built that barn had big dreams of rais­ing a fam­ily and mak­ing a

good liv­ing milk­ing cows in that lit­tle barn,” says Tate. Fire in the Sky is a paint­ing that skill­fully cap­tures the col­ors of a night­time for­est scene in the glow of dis­tant fire­light. “Through­out Ok­la­homa, oil wells light up the night­time sky as un­wanted gas is be­ing burned off,” Tate says of the piece.

Blush! Western Tan­ager, by Cher Anderson of Cher’s Cre­ations, was painted us­ing acrylic, col­ored pencils and some pas­tels. The Ari­zona-based artist ex­plains that she wanted to ex­per­i­ment with a va­ri­ety of medi­ums to ef­fec­tively cap­ture an im­age that felt true to this par­tic­u­lar bird. “I am al­ways try­ing new and dif­fer­ent ma­te­ri­als to ac­com­plish vi­brancy and de­tail at its best. I am an an­i­mal lover and pro­mote con­ser­va­tion at many dif­fer­ent lev­els,” says Anderson, who

do­nates a per­cent­age of her sales to the Artists for Con­ser­va­tion or­ga­ni­za­tion and sev­eral an­i­mal con­ser­va­tion and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ters.

Owned and op­er­ated by Jack­son Hole-based wildlife painter Car­rie Wild and her hus­band, wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher Ja­son Wil­liams, Gallery Wild show­cases fine art in­spired by an­i­mals, na­ture and con­ser­va­tion.

“For col­lec­tors buy­ing wildlife, I would en­cour­age them

to look be­yond the ob­vi­ous sub­ject mat­ter to dis­cern deeper un­der­stand­ing. Of­ten times an artist is telling a whole story with just one im­age,” says bronze artist Ray­mond Gibby of Gibby Bronze. His sculp­tures de­pict highly re­al­is­tic beasts, and while many are life-size, the artist pro­duces minia­tures that stand no taller than 7½ inches as well. “I like to sculpt wildlife be­cause it brings my soul peace,” says the artist. Gibby is rep­re­sented at the Sig­na­ture Gal­leries in Santa Fe, New Mex­ico, and Scotts­dale, Ari­zona; Moun­tain Trails Gallery at Se­dona in Ari­zona; and Moun­tain Trails Gallery in Jack­son, Wy­oming, and Park City, Utah.

“The Small Works Show is a won­der­ful time for col­lec­tors to pick up a piece that is a lit­tle jewel. Of­ten these smaller pieces end up be­ing tucked into more per­sonal spa­ces, which I think makes them re­ally spe­cial,” says In­sight Gallery owner and di­rec­tor El­iz­a­beth Har­ris. The size of these works, she ex­plains, al­lows for more flex­i­bil­ity in where they can be placed and en­cour­ages col­lec­tors to pos­si­bly rearrange the works in their col­lec­tion, fresh­en­ing the over­all aes­thetic.

“We look for­ward to this show each year as the artists pro­duce won­der­ful work that al­though smaller in size, the im­pact can still be huge.”

“Some of Charles M. Rus­sell’s best jewel box paint­ings and il­lus­trated letters en­com­pass im­agery as­so­ci­ated with Christ­mas and [the] hol­i­day sea­son,” says Emily Craw­ford Wil­son, cu­ra­tor at the C.M. Rus­sell Mu­seum. “This is be­cause as an artist Rus­sell took just as much care and dili­gence in mak­ing gifts for his friends as he did paint­ings for the open market.” Col­lec­tors can view a se­lec­tion of Rus­sell’s Christ­mas gifts and letters on dis­play at the C.M. Rus­sell Mu­seum through De­cem­ber 30.

Ex­hibit­ing nearly 300 works of art by

101 di­verse artists from across the coun­try, the Brin­ton 101 – Small Works Show at

The Brin­ton Mu­seum runs from Novem­ber 18 to De­cem­ber 23. In­cluded in the show are paint­ings, water­col­ors, draw­ings, sculp­tures and mixed-me­dia pieces. “The Brin­ton’s small works show keeps get­ting bet­ter each year with the breadth of in­vited artists con­tin­u­ally chang­ing to in­clude faces fa­mil­iar to the mu­seum as well as artists who are show­ing their work at our mu­seum for the first time,” says Brin­ton Mu­seum di­rec­tor Kenneth Schus­ter. “Each par­tic­i­pat­ing artist brings some­thing ex­cit­ing and won­der­ful to this show.”

1. In­sight Gallery, Knee Deep, oil, 9 x 12", by John Fawcett.

2. Blue Rain Gallery, Rio Grande Gorge, oil on linen, 8 x 16", by Stephen Magsig. 3. Brent Cot­ton, River Mist, oil, 6 x 6" 4. Ger­ald Peters Gallery, Bi­son (bolo tie), bronze and Colorado horse hair, 3¼ x 2½ x 2", by Steve Kestrel. 5. In­sight Gallery, Heir­loom of Big Bend, oil, 12 x 16", by David Grif­fin. 6. Brent Cooke, Gar­den War­riors, bronze and black gran­ite, ed. of 30, 15 x 15 x 8" 7. Ray­mond Gibby, Lit­tle Bighorn, bronze, ed. 40, 7½ x 6 x 3"8. In­sight Gallery, Rodeo Gals, oil, 12 x 16", by Scott Bur­dick.

9. C.M. Rus­sell Mu­seum, May Your Days Be Bet­ter, 1925. Wa­ter­color, pen and ink on pa­per,9½ x 7½", by C.M. Rus­sell (1864-1926).C.M. Rus­sell Mu­seum Col­lec­tion, Gift of the Josephine Trigg Es­tate. 10. Chip Brock, Big Dusty, oil, 9 x 12" 11. C.M. Rus­sell Mu­seum,See­ing Santa, 1910, wa­ter­color, pen and ink on pa­per, 8½ x 13", by C.M. Rus­sell (1864-1926). C.M. Rus­sell Mu­seum Col­lec­tion, Gift of the Josephine Trigg Es­tate. 12. Ray­mond Gibby,Texas Toad, bronze, ed. 25, 2½ x 6 x 4"13. Ray­mond Gibby, Tak­ing a Stand, bronze,7 x 4 x 4" 14. Kathy Tate, Once Some­one’s Dream, oil, 16 x 20" 15. Kathy Tate, Fire in the Sky, oil, 12 x 16" 16. Brent Cooke, Reed Raider, bronze and black gran­ite, ed. of 30,24 x 8 x 8"

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