Col­lec­tor’s Fo­cus: Sport­ing Art

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS - By John O’hern

Over 360 years ago Izaak Wal­ton wrote The Com­pleat An­gler, or the Con­tem­pla­tive Man’s Recre­ation. He wrote, “Rivers and the in­hab­i­tants of the watery el­e­ment were made for wise men to con­tem­plate, and fools to pass by with­out con­sid­er­a­tion.” He was beaten to the punch in de­scrib­ing the plea­sures of fish­ing with a rod and line by Dame Ju­liana Bern­ers who wrote A

Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an An­gle in 1496. Dame Ju­liana wrote, “If the an­gler catches fish no one is hap­pier in spirit than he.”

Of­ten the ob­ject of the an­gler’s pur­suit is a trout, a thing of beauty in it­self. Frank Divita’s

stu­dio over­looks the beauty of the Flat­head Val­ley in Montana. His fam­ily em­i­grated from Italy to Canada and fi­nally to Montana when he was a boy. He showed an early in­ter­est in zo­ol­ogy and art. Well-known for his sculp­tures of birds, he also sculpts game­fish, of which

Rain­bow Ris­ing is an ex­am­ple. He mod­els the sculp­tures in clay and then over­sees ev­ery step of the bronze cast­ing process.

Brett James Smith was in­tro­duced to quail hunt­ing by his grand­fa­ther, who also took him camp­ing and fish­ing. He soon learned the in­tri­ca­cies of the sport­ing life. His fa­ther was an il­lus­tra­tor whose work ap­peared on the cov­ers of early sport­ing mag­a­zines. In art school he re­al­ized he wasn’t be­ing taught the skills he needed for his cho­sen field of com­mer­cial il­lus­tra­tion. Later, while pur­su­ing a ca­reer in the field he de­cided to try his hand at easel paint­ing and the rest is his­tory. Smith 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.”

He strives to put the viewer in the scene whether it’s a scene from the past or one that Dame Ju­liana would be fa­mil­iar with to­day. In

Trout in Au­tumn the an­gler casts his line above the gen­tly flow­ing stream that re­flects the chang­ing col­ors of the trees.

Arthur Shil­stone, who is in his 90s, paints ev­ery day. Fred Pol­he­mus, who wrote Arthur Shil­stone — A Life­time of Draw­ing & Paint­ing,

says, “Shil­stone cre­ates mood by blur­ring de­tails in mists and skies. Tight de­tails, such as fins and feath­ers, are not a pri­or­ity in his work. He uses his brush to show men pur­su­ing game and to cap­ture a body of wa­ter at a par­tic­u­lar time of day, bathing the scene in the light and rich col­ors of the sea­son. His goal is to cre­ate a sense of place and a place of sense in which sight, sound, look and the chang­ing light

and shad­ows crys­tal­lize the mo­ment.” One of those mo­ments is cap­tured in his wa­ter­color, The Bass Fish­er­men—the gray sky re­flected in the wa­ter and the weath­ered tree trunks lead­ing the eye back to the an­gler about to land his catch.

Wal­ton wrote that he had aban­doned work for the day and “gone a-fish­ing.” Blair Buswell de­picts a boy and his dog pur­su­ing a dif­fer­ent sport, Goin’ Huntin’. He says, “I have al­ways been fas­ci­nated with the hu­man fig­ure. I like the chal­lenge of cap­tur­ing the ges­ture, mood and ex­pres­sion of my sub­ject…i try to com­bine all of these el­e­ments to­gether to bring a sense of life to my work.”

Through­out this spe­cial col­lec­tor’s fo­cus, read­ers will find scenes de­pict­ing the beauty of sport­ing art from lead­ing West­ern artists.

Bring­ing many of the West’s best sport­ing artists un­der one roof this Fe­bru­ary is the 38th an­nual South­east­ern Wildlife

Ex­po­si­tion. “The qual­ity of work in the fine art gallery is un­sur­passed and en­com­passes gen­res from sport­ing art, North Amer­i­can big game and African wildlife to na­ture in­spired land­scapes,” says SEWE’S art cu­ra­tor Natalie Hen­der­son. “Over 2,500 orig­i­nal paint­ings and sculp­tures will be on ex­hibit and range in style from tra­di­tional re­al­ism to con­tem­po­rary in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the finest wildlife art.”

On view at Vanessa Rothe Fine Art, Wait­ing for the Driv­ers by Eric Bow­man de­picts an ado­les­cent boy wait­ing for men to flush out the an­i­mals they are hunt­ing. “Bow­man cap­tures this mo­ment with his iconic use of vivid brush­work, col­ors and light,” says gallery owner Vanessa Rothe. “Known for his thick paint and wavy strokes that bring move­ment to the work, Bow­man has cre­ated a stun­ning work about the hunt.”

1. The Sports­man’s Gallery, Trout in Au­tumn, oil on can­vas, 18 x 24", by Brett James Smith.

2. Sports­man’s Pal­ette, The Bass Fish­er­men, wa­ter­color, 18 x 23", by Arthur Shil­stone. 3. Legacy Gallery, Goin’ Huntin’, bronze, 18 x 13", by Blair Buswell. 4. Trail­side Gal­leries, Rain­bow Ris­ing, bronze, 10.5", by Frank Divita. 5. South­east­ern Wildlife Ex­po­si­tion, Drop­ping in Mal­lards, wa­ter­color on pa­per, 21 x 28", by Jim Killen. 6. Vanessa Rothe Fine Art, Wait­ing for the Driv­ers, oil on linen board, 16 x 12”, by Eric Bow­man. 7. Vanessa Rothe Fine Art, At­lanta Hall, oil on linen, 30 x 40”, by Sam Robin­son. 8. South­east­ern Wildlife Ex­po­si­tion, A Point of Honor, bronze, 14 x 20", by Wal­ter Ma­tia.

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