Editor’s Letter | Looking Forward

By Margaret L. Brown

In 1995 I accompanied Susan McGarry to the opening of Southwest Art’s museum exhibition Covering the West at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, CO. The exhibit featured paintings and sculpture by artists who had appeared on the magazine’s cover in the previous quarter century almost all of them selected by Susan over the years. As I walked around the museum, I was struck by awed by, actually the quality of the artworks, not to mention the diversity. Names like Allan Houser, Richard Schmid, Bettina Steinke, Dan Namingha, James Bama. As Jack Hines wrote, the exhibit testified to the excellence of western American art—“one hell of a major art movement,” he said. But clearly it was a tribute to Susan as well, who had been at the helm of every issue of Southwest Art since August 1979.

I was surprised when Susan told me that this year’s August issue would be her last. It was hard to imagine Southwest Art without her sitting in her office working at the computer, closely examining a slide, or talking on the phone to artists and writers. But after 18 years as editor in chief, she decided to move on to new challenges. We all thank her for a distinguished legacy of 217 issues marked by a passionate commitment to western art, and we wish her great happiness in the future.

With Susan’s departure, Southwest Art also faces exciting challenges. The most important, I feel, is to continue to champion quality and diversity in the vast realm of western American art from historic to contemporary. Our lead article this month, “From the Old West to the New,” fully covers this spectrum, defining western art as a journey that began in the 19th century with George Catlin, Karl Bodmer, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Moran and continues today with contemporary artists such as Elmer Schooley. The article is an excerpt from Leading the West, a new book by Donald Hagerty published by Northland Publishing in cooperation with Southwest Art.

Another challenge for this magazine—and for the art market in general is to attract, educate, and inspire a new generation of collectors. Art requires a continuum of old and new: novice and veteran collectors and artists, tradition and innovation. Both are reflected in the pages of this issue. As we learn in Conversation Piece, Nedra Matteucci was a first-time art buyer 25 years ago; today she is one of Santa Fe’s most respected gallery owners. Likewise, renowned wildlife painter Bob Kuhn began his fine-art career in 1970; today Kuhn is a mentor to up-and-coming wildlife artists such as 27-year-old Luke Frazier, whom we interview this month. In our Abstracted Landscape portfolio, we give a reverential nod to Santa Fe painter William Lumpkins, at 88 the elder statesman of the seven artists profiled. Arriving in New Mexico in 1930, Lumpkins was influenced by modernist painter John Marin; in the ensuing six decades, he has created a body of work to which future generations will turn for inspiration.

As Southwest Art  moves into the future, we look back on Susan McGarry’s remarkable legacy and forward to exciting challenges. With these thoughts in mind, editors Kristin Bucher, Donna Tennant, and I proudly take the Southwest Art baton and run with it.

Featured in September 1997