40 Prominent People | Curt Walters

Curt Walters
Painter • Sedona, AZ

Curt Walters

Distinction: After years of capturing the Grand Canyon on canvas, Walters is unquestionably the best-known contemporary artist to take up the daunting subject.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the art world during your career? Historically the gallery system has been in the service of connecting artists and collectors. But the emergence of museum shows in the western art world has created a new dynamic in these relationships. Museum shows have actually enabled artists and collectors to meet, get to know each other, and build personal relationships and bonds.
Where do you find inspiration? Inspiration for my studio paintings has always come from being on location. For some unknown reason, I am often attracted to landscapes that terrorize me. I think that is why the Grand Canyon fascinates me so; it’s complicated and hard to paint most of the time.
How do you define success? My greatest compliment came at Prix de West a few years ago when a young lady stood in front of my Grand Canyon painting, GRANDEUR BESIEGED, and was in tears. I never dreamed that my work would move someone to tears, just as I had been moved the first time I saw Thomas Moran’s MOUNTAIN OF THE HOLY CROSS when I was 13.
Describe yourself in one word. Determined.
How would you like to be remembered? The artists most loved throughout history are often those who had a clear understanding of their own unique vision. I hope that artists and art historians will say, “He saw the world through his own eyes and painted the world as only his eyes saw it.”
People would be surprised to learn that … I have dyslexia. I break out in a cold sweat every time I have to sign a catalog in fear that I will spell something wrong. Writing thank-you notes can be torturous.
What do you think you have contributed to the world of western landscape painting? I have done nothing unique in terms of subject, composition, material, or technique. I can tell you, however, how I feel about the western landscape. The western landscape as a subject is as significant as the cowboy and Indian paintings that have come to symbolize the West. The history of those subjects are diluted with time and veiled with nostalgia. But to me, the majesty of the West’s mighty rivers, mountains, and canyons ring as true today as the day they were first seen.
How has Southwest Art contributed to your career? The look of the magazine has changed over the years, but the education of collectors and the inspiration for young artists has not changed one bit. Many articles about my work have appeared in these pages, and I am beyond appreciative. I wish Southwest Art another 40 years.

Featured in “40 Prominent People” in May 2011.

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