Editor’s Letter | On the Cusp

Andrzej Skorut, River [1999], oil, 47 x 53. ,painting, southwest art.
Andrzej Skorut, River [1999], oil, 47 x 53.

Margaret L. Brown

Amid much speculation about what the future holds in the next century, let’s pause and reflect on where we are at present. We are a hundred years beyond the prime of Remington and Russell, beyond the arrival of Blumenschein and Phillips in Taos, beyond Moran’s last panoramic western landscape. On the cusp of the new millennium, we are in a position to look back at these hundred years with great appreciation for all of the artists who have perpetuated and expanded upon the traditions of western American art.

We are in a strong economy that has created a new generation of collectors. Prices for western art are skyrocketing: A Remington oil painting sold for more than $5 million this summer at Christie’s. In late October, the Cowboy Artists of America annual sale passed the $2 million mark for the first time in the group’s 34-year history.

More than ever before, we have the opportunity today to visit galleries and museums and be moved, enthused, and inspired by the artworks we see. In the late 1990s, galleries across the country have become increasingly accessible on the Internet. Also in this decade, we have seen the wonderful circle of museums celebrating western art expand with the opening of the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, WY, and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, NM.

Twenty years ago there was little research material available on western American art. Now our bookshelves are filled with books and catalogs documenting artists from John Asaro to Milford Zornes. Make room for one more: In mid-December, the long-awaited Georgia O’Keeffe: Catalogue Raisonné, a two-volume, 1,198-page chronicle of her career, will be available in bookstores.

As you can see in this issue, western art at the end of the 1990s is characterized by excellence and diversity, from Nancy Guzik’s painterly portraits to Daniel Morper’s haunting rail-yard scenes. This month we also introduce several talented painters at the beginning of their careers, including cover artist Jason Wheatley and Andrzej Skorut.

We are fortunate to be collectors, appreciators, supporters, and students of western American at the turn of the century. Here on the cusp, we have the privileged view of the long road behind and the exciting path ahead.

Featured in December 1999