Collector’s Focus: Western Small Works & Miniatures
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"