Portfolio | 1999 Prix de West Preview

Prix de West Preview
More than 250 works by some of the best-known artists of the West are for sale in this month’s Prix de West Invitational show at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, OK. Here’s a sneak preview of 10 works you’ll see.

Emissaries, bronze, 20 x 21. sculpture, southwest art.
Emissaries, bronze, 20 x 21.

·  Tony Angell  ·
Tony Angell was hiking near the Copper River in Alaska when he looked up to see a pair of midnight-blue ravens. Angell remembers being struck by the birds’ call, which sounded welcoming and also seemed to pose the question, “What are you doing here?” Angell was exploring a wilderness area, where wolves and brown bears roam freely. “These ravens became like emissaries to me, official greeters, the animals in the wilderness designated to find out who we were. After a while they flew into the mist, all the time calling as if they were telling other animals about us—where we were and what we were like,” Angell says. When he returned home to Seattle he re-created the scene in bronze, a work he titled Emissaries.
Angell has a passionate interest in nature and art, and he has been on the board of the Nature Conservancy during much of his career. He is a member of the National Sculpture Society and is represented by Gerald Peters Gallery, New York, NY, Santa Fe, NM, and Dallas, TX; Foster/ White Gallery, Seattle and Kirkland, WA; and Spanierman Gallery, New York, NY. —BG

Spring Blossoms, oil, 36 x 30.,painting, southwest art.
Spring Blossoms, oil, 36 x 30.

·  John Encinias  ·
The first things you notice about John Encinias’ still life Spring Blossoms are the portraits
and sketches of artists scattered around the table and hanging on the wall behind the floral arrangement. “This is an element that I like to include in my major still lifes—I like to put in artists who’ve inspired me,” says Encinias. The postcard on the upper left, for example, is a reproduction of a portrait of Édouard Manet. “I also use the artists’ pictures as a compositional device, to provide spots of color and light,” he continues. The main element in this painting, however, was intended to be the brass server, the artist says. “But when I started putting in the stalks of pink blossoms, they began to take over the painting.” Encinias’ still lifes and landscapes are represented by Howard Portnoy Gallerie, Carmel, CA; Legacy Galleries, Scottsdale, AZ, and Jackson, WY; Shriver Gallery, Taos, NM; Ann Hughes Fine Art, Dallas, TX; and Merrill Gallery of Fine Art, Denver, CO. —KB

Alaskan Morning, oil, 28 x 40.,painting, southwest art.
Alaskan Morning, oil, 28 x 40.

·  William Reese  ·
“This painting is a scene from Sitka, AK. I was up there fishing last year by a spot
called Beehive,” says William Reese. “This area is what I imagine Scandinavia to be like—fjords, beautiful veils of clouds, and mountains rising up out of the sky.” All three of Reese’s paintings in the Prix de West Invitational this year are of this site. Reese’s sculptural talents are also represented at the show. Of his bronze Mountain Spirit [see page 8], Reese says, “This piece is a model for a life-size bronze that I did. The woman who commissioned the larger piece loves cougars and wanted three in the composition.” Reese, who lives in Washington, is represented by Simpson Gallagher Gallery, Cody, WY; Wichita Gallery of Fine Art, KS; Gallery at Shoal Creek, Austin, TX; and Pitzer’s of Carmel, CA. —MB

Evening Shadows, oil, 40 x 20.,painting, southwest art.
Evening Shadows, oil, 40 x 20.

·  Scott Christensen  ·
Scott Christensen painted Evening Shadows in a marshy stand of cottonwoods in eastern Idaho, just across the state line from his home in Jackson, WY. The unusually sized canvas he used for the landscape was a challenge, he says. “I like trying to force my composition into an odd shape. In this case there were so many upright elements with all the trees that I used the horizontal clouds and the ground plants for balance, to keep the whole piece from becoming too vertical.” The painting also became a study in color. “I wanted to experiment with how all the colors worked together,” Christensen says. “The differences are subtle, but I used a lot of colors to re-create the shadows. That’s what this piece is all about.”

Christensen’s focus on landscapes is dictated by the natural beauty that surrounds him in northwestern Wyoming. The subject doesn’t really matter, though, if the painting is good, he says. “I paint a subject because I want to see it done well,” Christensen explains. “My images are personal statements.” Christensen is represented by Trailside Galleries, Jackson, WY; Pierce Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ; Ann Hughes Fine Art, Dallas, TX; and Kneeland Gallery, Sun Valley, ID. —KB

·  Shirley Thomson-Smith  ·
The woman in Shirley Thomson-Smith’s bronze Contemplation appears lost in thought.
“I like her looks,” Thomson-Smith says. “There’s an assurance about her, even in contemplation.” The well-known sculptor has long admired Indian, Mexican, and African art. In her own work Thomson-Smith often depicts strong women in flowing,

Contemplation, bronze, 17 x 15 x 14., sculpture, southwest art.
Contemplation, bronze, 17 x 15 x 14.

elegant forms. The Oklahoma sculptor is an associate member of the National Sculpture Society and a member of the Oklahoma Sculpture Society.  She is represented by Breckenridge Galleries, Breckenridge, CO; Columbine Gallery, Loveland, CO; Gallery at Shoal Creek, Austin, TX; NanEtte Richardson Fine Art, San Antonio, TX; Vanier Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ; and Wadle Galleries, Santa Fe, NM. —BG

·  Robert K. Abbett  ·
Robert K. Abbett was hunting in a rugged area of the Superstition Mountains near Scottsdale, AZ, when he witnessed a scene that inspired his painting Takin’ Out the Cholla. “A cowpoke was out in the boonies with his horse and two dogs,” Abbett recalls. One of the dogs had barbs from a Cholla cactus around his mouth. The painful barbs pierce the skin and turn inside like a fish hook, he says. The cowboy was delicately removing them when Abbett snapped a

Takin Out the Cholla, oil, 24 x 36. ,painting, southwest art.
Takin’ Out the Cholla, oil, 24 x 36.

photograph of the scene that he filed away until recently. Abbett is known for his depictions of hunting dogs and his talent for pulling a viewer into the drama of life in the wild. He is represented by Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, and Jackson, WY; and William Secord Gallery, New York, NY. —BG

·  Wayne Wolfe  ·
Of his oil Six O’Clock Belles, Wayne Wolfe says, “The location is the valley of the Cimarron River in what is known as the Big Blue wilderness—part of the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado near Ouray and Silverton. The elk cows congregate during the summer at high, cool elevations until the rut (mating season) each fall when the bulls become interested.” Wolfe returns to this area often to paint small and

Six O Clock Belles, oil, 24 x 36.,painting, southwest art.
Six O’Clock Belles, oil, 24 x 36.

medium-size works as well as sketches in preparation for larger works. “I paint there at all times of year,” he says. “If I can get up there in the winter I do, although they usually close the roads.” Wolfe lives in Colorado and is represented by Claggett/Rey Gallery, Vail, CO, and Whistle Pik Galleries, Fredericksburg, TX. —MB

·  Carrie Ballantyne  ·
When Carrie Ballantyne met Asher Freeman, she knew right away she wanted to draw him.
“He’s this long and lanky 16-year-old with an incredible profile,” she says. “And he has a very gentle quality about him despite his harsh lifestyle.” Asher works on a rural Nevada ranch. “In Nevada you’re not a cowboy, you’re a buckaroo,” says Ballantyne. Ask any Nevadan, and you’ll learn there is a difference. True buckaroos are influenced by the old vaqueros, by their gear and ranching style.

Asher Freeman Buckaroo, colored pencil, 20 x 13.,painting, southwest art.
Asher Freeman—Buckaroo, colored pencil, 20 x 13.

“The lifestyle is who Asher is. People like him impress me. Thus, this work was more a study of values than anything else,” Ballantyne says. “The hands here were really important to me, more so than the eyes, which I usually emphasize. The focus had to be on the young, working hands—already the hands of a man.” Ballantyne is represented by Big Horn Gallery, Cody, WY. —LB

·  Lanford Monroe  ·
“I’m more interested in the mood of a setting than exact representation,” says Taos, NM, painter Lanford Monroe. Her painting Glacier Trail is based on a restricted area she saw during her first visit to Glacier National Park, MT, last fall. “That was the first time I’d seen wolves in the wild,” she says. But the wolves were not in the actual setting they are in the painting—she took a little creative license. “I always work with an idea of a specific place, but I’ll change the general composition to suit me,” Monroe says. “The mood, the feeling I got while I was there, is what I’m trying for. It’s never simply a portrait of the place.” Monroe is represented by Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Trailside Galleries, Jackson, WY; Spanierman Gallery, New York, NY; J.N. Bartfield Galleries, New York, NY; and The Sporting Gallery, Middleburg, VA. —LB

Glacier Trail, oil, 30 x 40.,painting, southwest art.
Glacier Trail, oil, 30 x 40.

·  Jim Morgan  ·
“More than anything, this painting is an expression of how much I enjoy painting snow,”
says Jim Morgan. “It’s one of my favorite things, and for the last two months that’s about all I’ve been doing. The piece was primarily an effort to convey the effects of sunlight on fresh snow, and then I added the magpie because its colors seemed to complement the colors in the stream so well.” Rock Creek is near Morgan’s home in northern Utah, where he is constantly inspired by the mountains, marshes, and wildlife that surround him. Although he is well known for his paintings of wildlife, Morgan has lately been focusing more on the natural features of the land than on the animals that inhabit it. “I’ve even been doing some straight landscapes without any wildlife,” he says. Morgan is represented by Trailside

New Snow Rock Creek, oil, 30 x 40.,painting, southwest art.
New Snow—Rock Creek, oil, 30 x 40.

Galleries, Jackson, WY; J.N. Bartfield Galleries, New York, NY; Meyer Gallery, Park City, UT; and Pitzer’s of Carmel, CA. —KB

Featured in “Portfolio” June 1999