Energy and nuance
Kim Wiggins took a master class with Henriette Wyeth at the Santa Fe Art Institute. Wyeth was a neighbor of sorts in Roswell, New Mexico, where both her husband, Peter Hurd, and Wiggins were raised. Wyeth encouraged him to go outside and to paint the ranchlands he lived on and the features of the Southwest landscape.
Wiggins’ father was a noted photojournalist and his mother a rodeo cowgirl. They encouraged him in his early interest in sculpting small figures of animals in clay and his move to painting in oils when he was 14.
He immersed himself in the landscape, absorbing its energy and its nuances and developed his own version of expressionism to portray what he saw and felt in the landscape. Today he is one of the most recognized contemporary painters of the West.
A keen interest in history was inspired by his grandfather’s collection of Old West magazines from which he would read to him. He has created large historical paintings of Custer’s Last Stand, the battle of the Alamo in The Texians and a series of 10 major paintings on the history of California that now reside at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Yet it is his New Mexico landscapes that are, perhaps, best known.
In Pecos Valley Sunset a farmer plows his field on his green John Deere, dwarfed by the mountains and the landscape around him. Fields, trees, windmills and farm buildings morph into one energetic whole formed on canvas by his thick impastos of paint and echoing the oneness of nature.
The people of the region speak to him as much as the landscape. He says, “When I look around I see the Hispanic influences. I see the people. I see the vibrant colors.” His Lovers at Las Trampas portrays a young couple lit by lantern and moonlight in front of the church at Las Trampas that was completed in the otherwise significant year of 1776. The faith of the early settlers of the region is reflected in his own deep personal faith.
These paintings and others can be seen in an exhibition of his work at Manitou Galleries on West Palace Avenue in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the weekend of August 2 through 5.
Kim Wiggins in his New Mexico studio.
A Ride in Spring, oil, 11 x 14"
Village Along the Llano Quemado, oil, 9 x 12"
Lovers at Las Trampas, oil, 16 x 20"