The artistic benefits of digging deep
By Kristin Hoerth
This story was featured in the April 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art April 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art April 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
When I joined the staff of Southwest Art many years ago, one of my responsibilities was to fact-check every article that appeared in the magazine. It was a bit tedious, involving tasks like confirming the spelling of artists’ names (is it O’Keeffe or O’Keefe?), verifying locations (is the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau or Waukesha?), and generally vetting all factual statements. And this was before the Internet! I relied instead on old-fashioned information sources like reference books, phone calls, and printed press materials sent to our office by galleries and museums.
Still, I really liked my fact-checking duties, mostly because they allowed me to discover the whole story behind whatever I was looking up. If we were doing, say, a column about an upcoming Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit, and we mentioned one particularly important painting that was included in it, I would get to learn all about that painting in the course of scrutinizing the facts. I loved this chance to dig deep into topics and gain a thorough understanding of them, and I know it made for better articles.
Several of this month’s featured artists share that same love for digging deep into their work. They aren’t content to skim the surface, but rather insist on complete absorption in their artistic endeavors. Take California landscape painter Charles Muench, who regularly treks into the wilderness to revisit the same remote and scenic places, coming to know them intimately. He understands these spots from top to bottom—“the smell of pine, the crunch of snow beneath your feet, the cloud that appears seemingly out of nowhere,” he says. “To truly understand the subject of your art, you must immerse yourself in it fully.”
Or consider Colorado still-life painter Scott Fraser, who delves deeply into art history to create his unique works. Fraser is in the process of creating a group of paintings he calls his Icon Series, which pay homage to some of his favorite historical artists such as Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeois, and Rene Magritte. And the objects in his paintings are largely rendered in an style reminiscent of the old masters—which he then pushes into the post-modern era by using contemporary settings, surprising combinations, and whimsical elements. Fraser is keenly aware of his position in the timeline of art history, and he relishes the chance to explore connections among past and present. Like Muench and many other artists, he knows that this deep engrossment makes for artwork full of meaning.
Featured in the April 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art April 2013 digital download
Southwest Art April 2013 print issue
Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
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