By Kristin Bucher
It’s funny how often unexpected coincidences crop up in an issue of Southwest Art. This month, for example, our feature articles cover a wide range of artwork—wildlife and animal works from the delicate to the dramatic, plus landscapes, figures, and urban scenes—but no fewer than three of the featured artists share a significant life experience: an important epiphany that dramatically altered their path in life and set them on an artistic course.
For printmaker C.C. Barton, the epiphany came on a late-night visit to the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru. Sitting in the silent darkness, she looked up and saw the Southern Cross with its cluster of four stars shining brighter than she’d ever seen it before, and the click of connection she felt told her things in her life would soon change. She went home, quit her corporate job, and began working in earnest as a full-time artist.
For sculptor Jim Budish, there came a moment one day in the office of the real estate company he owned. Gazing at a lump of clay he’d been working on in his spare time, he suddenly realized that his passion was sculpting, not selling buildings. So he handed his son the keys to the place and walked out of the office on the spot, determined to make a new career in three-dimensional art.
And for painter Teri Jonas, everything changed the day she saw an exhibit of impressionistic watercolors by Chen Chi at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, OH, where she lived. She explains the experience this way: “Standing there, looking at a painting, I became part of it. When I finally surfaced from just total awe, I was crying. I said to myself, ‘That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to paint.’” And so she did.
Of course, inspiration doesn’t always strike quite so vividly or result in such significant change. Sometimes an overheard phrase or a chance encounter merely sparks a small but significant realization, a moment of clarity or insight. An old friend used to call them “aha!” moments. You almost never find them when you’re looking for them, but when you’re paying attention to your thoughts and your surroundings, you’ll begin to notice them. Perhaps the inspirational artists in this issue will provide a good starting point.
Featured in April 2007