Emerging Artists | Michlap, Youngquist, Avant

Santa Fe Avenue by Sam Michlap. Painting, southwest art.
Santa Fe Avenue by Sam Michlap

By Bonnie Gangelhoff and Kristin Bucher

Sam Michlap

At age 31, California painter Sam Michlap has already established a successful career in the film industry. His list of credits is long—most recently he worked as an art director on DreamWork’s The Road to El Dorado. In his spare time, however, Michlap moonlights as a fine artist. His subject of choice is the urban scene. The Los Angeles area inspires his work, but the cityscapes he creates are generic, moody pieces that spring from his fertile imagination. “I try to give an impression of an emotion rather than a literal interpretation of one specific location,” Michlap says. “Being able to transform the most mundane and often gritty scenes into something interesting and beautiful is what constantly drives me as an artist.” This fall Michlap’s works are on view in group shows at Howard/Mandville Gallery in Kirkland, WA, opening October 14; Ann Hughes Fine Art in Dallas, TX, opening October 27; and Whistle Pik Gallery in Fredericksburg, TX, opening December 8. Michlap is represented by Howard/Mandville Gallery in Kirkland, WA. —BG

Valley Vista by Romona Youngquist . painting, southwest art.
Valley Vista by Romona Youngquist

Romona Youngquist

“I knew I was going to be an artist when I was 4,” says Romona Youngquist only half-jokingly; her drawing of a rooster drew the adulation of a teacher, and from then on she just knew what she wanted to be. The 40-year-old painter has studied with Michael Gibbons and Michael Workman, but she is primarily self-taught. Living on a small farm in the Oregon wine country with her husband and three young children, Youngquist finds inspiration within a 10-mile radius of her home. “Lots of coffee really helps, too,” she says with a laugh. “Our place overlooks this beautiful valley. I go out there and take that in. I go for walks. Walks are probably my biggest inspiration.” She likes to portray minimalistic landscapes with just a hint of someone’s presence, such as a quiet country home or a pasture with wooden barns in the distance. As for an esoteric artistic philosophy, Youngquist says she doesn’t have one. “I have this need to duplicate what I see on canvas, but in my own way. That’s all it is,” she says. She is represented by Meyer Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, and Scottsdale, AZ, and Kimzey-Miller Gallery, Seattle, WA. —LB

Sunflowers and Pot by Tracy Wright Avant. painting, southwest art.
Sunflowers and Pot by Tracy Wright Avant

Tracy Wright Avant

After 38 years in Texas, Tracy Wright Avant can just about call herself a native Texan. She currently lives in Dilley, a small town located halfway between San Antonio and the Mexican border. Each week she gets together to paint with other artists from the area who belong to the South Texas Artists’ Association, an organization Avant founded and currently serves as president. She has been painting full time for 13 years now, and her favorite subjects are still lifes created with flowers from the more than 70 rosebushes in her garden. Regardless of the subject, though, Avant aims to capture her own emotional response. “I want to transfer my feelings onto my canvas,” she says, “so that the end result will hopefully be embraced by the viewer.” Avant is represented by NanEtte Richardson Fine Art, San Antonio, TX; Jack Dennis’ Wyoming Gallery, Jackson, WY; Love Texas Gallery, San Antonio, TX; and LaCouture Gallery, Ruidoso, NM. —KB

Featured in “Artists to Watch” September 2000