Editor’s Letter | A Sense of Magic

The best artworks possess a wonderful, intangible mystery

By Kristin Hoerth

Liz Wolf, Vaquero, bronze, 22 x 11 x 7.

Liz Wolf, Vaquero, bronze, 22 x 11 x 7.

This story was featured in the July 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art July 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

For many years, the July issue of Southwest Art has focused on the art of sculpture, and this month is no exception. But there’s another theme running through the issue, too—one that wasn’t planned at all: magic. Without any prompting from the editors and contributing writers, a surprising number of the featured sculptors use that very word to describe their inspiration and goals for their artwork.

For example, Greg Woodard, who is featured on page 100, puts it this way: “To me, good art has a magic. It’s hard to describe, but I think about what’s really going to make a piece sing, what’s going to grab you and make you feel something.” Liz Wolf, featured on page 94, has this to say when discussing the primitive feel of many of her sculptures: “Sometimes it feels like I have lived other lives, because I have always enjoyed primitive things that are so beautiful but may come from prehistoric times. Where does the internal resonance with certain things come from? That is the magic of life. To me, it’s all magical, all mystery.”

The theme continues in our portfolio article, entitled “Taking Shape,” which spotlights 16 sculptors and begins on page 104. Heidi Kujat, for example, says that one of the major turning points in her career happened when an instructor told her to let each sculpture speak to her; his words still guide her creative process today. “That’s where the magic comes in for me,” Kujat says. Finally, Scott Rogers
talks about his early years spent watching his uncle, well-known western sculptor Grant Speed. “Growing up, every time I saw his work, it was like something went off inside of me that said that was magic,” he remembers.

After two decades in the art world, I have come to believe that some of the best artworks happen when artists feel this sense of magic, of inexplicable “internal resonance,” in one way or another. As collectors, we can feel it, too, because it shines through in the work itself. Which is not at all to say that the creation of great art is wholly dependent on some mysterious and intangible force; on the contrary, craftsmanship—the knowledge and skill that result from extensive training and practice—is essential. But craftsmanship alone does not necessarily yield pieces that stop you in your tracks. I hope you find some pieces like that in the following pages.

Featured in the July 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art July 2014 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!

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