SPIRIT OF THE DESERT BY ED MELL
By Kristin Bucher
Not too long ago I was in Santa Fe for Indian Market, one of the largest and most prestigious Native American art events in the country. As I walked through the artists’ booths on a hot Sunday afternoon, my eye landed on a bracelet with dusky blue stones. I stood there examining it for a moment, and the young man on the other side of the display table came forward. “That’s denim lapis. I’m the artist, and my initials are on the inside,” he said. What struck me about this small encounter was how extraordinary it was to establish a personal connection, no matter how brief, with the creator of a work of art. How often, in the course of our daily lives, do we have that chance?
I’d had a similar feeling weeks earlier, when we learned about a dedicated couple in Denver. (Their story begins on page 134.) They don’t just collect paintings, they become active observers of the creative process by accompanying their artist friends on painting trips like a 20-mile trek into the Wyoming wilderness with artist Tucker Smith. And so the artworks they purchase are more than fine art, they are reminders of relationships forged and connections made between those who create and those who appreciate—in the fullest sense of the word their creations.
I think you’ll see these personal connections elsewhere in this issue, too in Todd Wilkinson’s article on the late Robert Lougheed, who was a beloved mentor to younger artists, and in Bonnie Gangelhoff’s article on collector Roy Rose, who devotes his energy to supporting and promoting today’s plein-air painters. All of which reinforces the notion that it’s the personal relation-ships we form that matter, that enrich our lives and make all our pursuits especially art collecting rewarding.
It’s this personal approach that I’ll be emphasizing as I move into the editor’s chair (after eight years as a member of the editorial staff) at Southwest Art. Over the coming months, you’ll find fresh, lively features in the magazine that let you make a personal connection with artists. You’ll also begin to find more opportunities to make connections with me and with the other editors. You’ll see us out and about at shows and in galleries and when you do, I invite you to share with us some of your experiences in the world of art. Together we can celebrate the creating and the collecting that keep it vital. -October 2002