Emerging Artists | Bond, Lesser, Simpson

Aspen Meadow by Keith Bond, painting, southwest art.
Aspen Meadow by Keith Bond

By Bonnie Gangelhoff and Margaret Brown

Keith Bond

Keith Bond maneuvered himself out of the business side of art rather quickly to pursue a full-time career as a painter. A Utah native, he moved to Texas two and a half years ago to work for a gallery; for a year now he’s been focusing on his own art and participating in invitational exhibitions such as the Mountain Oyster Club Art Show in Tucson, AZ, and the annual miniatures show at Whistle Pik Galleries, Fredericksburg, TX. Bond travels to unscathed areas in Arizona, Texas, and Utah to capture the southwestern landscape. “I really have a variety of things that intrigue me,” he says of the diverse terrain of the region. “I’m particularly drawn to the wilderness areas where there is no evidence of human habitation.” The majority of his work is painted en plein air. “There’s just something about being outdoors in the very landscape I’m painting,” says Bond. “I can really put the feeling of the land into the work when I’m out there in it.” Bond spent part of this summer with 12 painters in the Sierra Nevadas; work from the trip is on view at Tirage Gallery in Pasadena, CA, this fall. He is represented by Whistle Pik Galleries, Fredericksburg, TX; Venture Fine Art, Tucson, AZ; and www.pleinairgallery.com. —LB

On the Table by Joseph Lesser, painting, southwest art.
On the Table by Joseph Lesser

Joseph Lesser

In 1995 Joseph Lesser was working as a software consultant when he began taking drawing and painting classes at the Academy of Realist Art in Seattle, WA. Soon he was winning awards and devoting increasing time to his avocation. In 1998 Lesser gladly traded in his high-tech job for what he calls a low-tech career in fine art. Today he is known for still-life works that depict ordinary objects such as a jar, a piece of fruit, or an old bowl, as well as his paintings of the northwestern landscape. “Whether it’s a still life or landscape, I have a conversation with the subject matter,” Lesser says. “If I’m really receptive and listen, the subject reveals itself more and more to me.” For inspiration Lesser turns to Edgar Degas and William Merritt Chase. Lesser’s new works are in two shows this month. At press time he was preparing for a show at Living Gallery in Ashland, OR, which opens August 4, and one at Roby King Galleries on Bainbridge Island, WA, which opens August 6. Lesser is represented by Living Gallery, Ashland, OR; Yoshida’s Fine Art Gallery, Troutdale, OR; Pacific Rim Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR; Roby King Galleries, Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, and Port Ludlow, WA; and Waterworks Gallery, Friday Harbor, WA. —BG

El Verde Series Potters Dwelling (detail), painting, southwest art.
El Verde Series—Potters Dwelling (detail)

Renee Simpson

Renee Simpson grew up in an artistic family—her grandfather and mother were painters—and in a high school art class discovered a love of watercolor. “When you paint with watercolor, it does its own thing and something exciting always happens,” Simpson says. But after failing a freshman art class in college, she turned her attention to studying accounting and eventually opened her own practice. It was a decade before she returned to painting, but when she did it was with a vengeance—painting picture after picture, studying art books, and taking classes. “If you want to be successful in watercolor you have to be dedicated because it’s a difficult medium,” she says.

Today she divides her time between art and accounting, traveling as often as she can to paint on location at her favorite spot: Taos, NM. Her hard work has paid off—this year her watercolor Got Harley? was juried into the Texas Watercolor Society’s 51st annual traveling exhibit. Simpson is represented by Bryan’s Gallery, Taos, NM. —MB

Featured in “Artists to Watch” August 2000