Archives for Genre

Journeys Into History

Until a functioning time machine is invented, the next-best way to travel backward into history just might be to take a long, careful look at one of Heide Presse’s richly detailed figurative oil paintings. In doing so, you’ll find yourself somewhere between 1840 and 1860. Zoom in anywhere—the model’s hairstyle, the appliqué pattern on the quilt draped over a chair, the intricate construction of the bonnet, the hem of the petticoat peeking out from beneath the calico skirt—and you’ll see the result of Presse’s meticulous attention to detail. Presse is a gifted painter, but she is also a keen student
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Leaning Toward His Easel

When viewers take note of the authenticity in Teal Blake’s body of Western artwork, they get a simple reminder that whatever painting he’s working on, it isn’t his first rodeo. In fact, before he got serious about art, Blake was on the college rodeo circuit and was so obsessed with it that he flunked his art classes. “At that point in your life nobody can tell you anything,” he says. “I wanted to be off chasing horses and be in the brush and live that wild life for a little while. I didn’t pay as much attention as I should
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Living His Dream

At the hand of Pennsylvania artist Robert Griffing, Eastern cities and roads of today morph into scenes of 18th century Eastern Woodland Indian villages and pristine forests. Where most people see buildings, cars, crowds, and concrete, he sees the area as it once was and renders portraits of how these Native Americans lived, dressed, and worked. Griffing’s love for Eastern Woodland Indians began when he was a young lad growing up in Linesville, Pennsylvania, which is rife with lore and artifacts of the Seneca and Erie Indians. One day, while exploring the shores of nearby Lake Erie, he discovered a
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The Studio of Jim Norton

Jim Norton’s studio is just as he likes it—overflowing with things he loves. That includes paints and paintings, cowboy and Native American accoutrements, and hundreds of books. The studio, he admits, is for working; it is not a showplace. It is where he creates his depictions of the West, past and present, which have earned him international acclaim. Located on the walkout level of the two-story house he shares with his wife, Pam, on two acres of land in Santaquin, Utah, Norton’s studio opens up to a beautiful backyard oasis. That outside setting is as awe-inspiring as his paintings: full
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Still Going Strong

Artists will tell you that creating art is a career—but it’s not a job. Why is that? They see creating art as a calling that is so intense it cannot be ignored no matter the risk. And there is indeed risk, financial as well as personal. They put their work out into the world, where everyone who sees it will judge it. If it’s deemed worthy, it will sell. If not, it’s on to the next painting or sculpture, determined to do better. The four artists we feature on the following pages have a combined age of 344 years and
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Portraits of the Past

Ranging in scope from mountain men and covered wagons to Native Americans and working cowboys, Steven Lang’s illuminating compositions provide highly personal insights into Western history. Tracing his Pawnee and Cherokee heritage back to his great- grandparents, the California-based artist has a special affinity for creating imagery that portrays the life of Native Americans. However, an oeuvre of work created during the past three decades also includes action-filled scenes of cattle drives, saloons, and Indian war parties. An inveterate storyteller, Lang finds it equally satisfying to depict the more intimate moments of everyday life. Although they might have lived a
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No Regrets

At 17, S.C. (Chris) Mummert knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life: He was going to be an artist. He envisioned himself spending long days alone in his studio, illustrating magazine covers and living the solitary life of an artist. It didn’t exactly work out that way. And maybe, Mummert says, that’s for the best. “I wanted to be a hermit and just paint all day,” he says. “But then I got thrust into business, where I had to deal with people all day. That experience really rounded my corners out. It helped me realize that I
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Hitting Their Stride

Maybe it’s using complementary colors. Perhaps it’s painting in black and white or sepia tones. Maybe it’s diving deeply into one subject matter to capture it perfectly. Artists go through phases of work, improving their techniques and finding their places in the art world. Whether it’s at the beginning, middle, or later in their careers, something just ‘clicks’ when artists find the subject matter, medium, or technique that allows their creativity to shine. Meet three artists who are hitting their stride, and who are being featured in Art of the West for the first time. They are worthy of your
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The Power of the West

“I was born a storyteller.” So writes Mark Kohler in his book titled “Going West.” And he tells those stories brilliantly through his paintings of everything from working cowboys, bronc riders, and ropers to remudas, escaramuzas, and still lifes. “My art mirrors my life and experiences,” he writes. “We paint what we are.” Kohler loves what he paints and goes to great lengths to capture scenes—and people—that captivate and inspire him. He visits ranches in several states and takes a myriad of photographs of the people who work them and the animals that inhabit them. It took awhile for Kohler
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Western Nouveau

To understand Thomas Blackshear II’s segue into Western art, you need to understand his storied career. It seems that the Colorado artist never does anything halfheartedly, nor does he redo the tried and true. In fact, he likes to take what other artists are rendering and tweak it to show viewers something they recognize, but he does so from an innovative perspective. Blackshear likens his work to rappers who take old music and give it a new slant. Relatively new to the Western art genre, Blackshear hit the scene about three years ago. “I’ve had a long and varied career,”
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