By Kristin Hoerth
It’s the midst of the holidays as I write this, family has been on my mind quite a bit lately. My husband and I spend Christmas with my side, which is quite small; we number our get-togethers in the single digits. But it’s a completely different story on my his side, where we spend Thanksgiving every year: There are 75 people at Thanksgiving dinner, all part of his father’s extended family. I’ve learned, in the seven years I’ve been traveling to Wisconsin with him for this mass assembly, that it’s best to think of it as an autumnal family reunion. It lasts all day, for one thing, and it’s impossible to talk to everyone. The meal takes place in an uncle’s (heated, thankfully) garage, where food is set up buffet-style and served on paper plates and guests sit at card tables. And when it’s all over, we spend the night at the family farmhouse with the nearly 20 other out-of-towners.
It’s all fairly overwhelming for someone like me, who has no siblings and just six cousins. As my husband will tell you, I get a bit crazy in the midst of it, but I ultimately leave town feeling grateful for the sheer volume of love, friendship, and camaraderie that gets packed into just a few days. It can be a wonderful thing to be part of such a network, where there are so many experiences to be shared and connections to be made.
Two of the artists featured in this month’s issue would undoubtedly share my appreciation of family connections. Both Teal Blake and Josh Elliott have fathers who are well-known painters: Buckeye Blake’s iconic western images appear on canvas and paper as well as neckties and scarves; Steve Elliott’s wildlife paintings are in galleries and museums around the West. Both sons have benefited from instruction or advice from their dads. But, importantly, both have charted their own course in the art world, achieving success by virtue of their own talent and hard work. Teal’s watercolors are softer and less stylized than Buckeye’s; Josh has devoted himself exclusively to the western landscape instead of incorporating its fauna as well. And you’ll find yet another example of the father-son artistic connection in our April issue, when we feature Nicholas Coleman, son of Michael Coleman. We hope you enjoy learning more about the backgrounds of these rising art stars. -February 2009