Editor’s Letter | Wisdom From a Master

By Kristin Hoerth

I’ve had the good fortune to meet a number of art-world luminaries over the years. I’ve had breakfast with Richard Schmid and dinner with David Leffel, for example. And a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting renowned artist Everett Raymond Kinstler. As you may know, Kinstler is one of the nation’s foremost portrait painters. He’s painted personalities like Tony Bennett and Katharine Hepburn, numerous business leaders, and six presidents. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, owns some 75 paintings by Kinstler, and he is also represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Butler Institute of American Art, and many other museums.

I met Kinstler in San Antonio, TX, when he was serving as the awards judge for Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art’s annual Salon International show. During the awards banquet, he entertained attendees with warm and funny anecdotes about the people he’s painted over the years as well as his opinions on art. The comment I’m still thinking about, weeks later, is that a good artist must first have something to say—a feeling to communicate—and then he or she must have the skills to successfully communicate that feeling. But the feeling must come first.

I couldn’t agree more. Without feeling, an artwork may be technically impressive but will still lack impact. No matter how skillfully paint is applied, if the artist’s heart isn’t in it, the experienced viewer can always tell that something’s missing. Similarly, a heartfelt work may still move viewers, even if it lacks technical refinements. The honest emotion that an artist invests in a painting always comes through to the viewer. It’s what moves people to tears, what compels them to stand mesmerized before a piece for a long time, what ultimately makes them part with hard-earned money to have the pleasure of hanging it on their own wall.

By the way, there were many moving pieces in the Salon International show, and I imagine it was a difficult task Kinstler undertook in judging all 400 of them. You can see the Best of Show winner by Scott Lloyd Anderson of Minnesota on page 120 of this issue. Second place went to Gail Rutledge of Texas, and third place went to C.M. Cooper of California. The Southwest Art Magazine Award of Excellence went to Richard Plasschaert of Minnesota. There were additional award-winners too numerous to mention here, which can be seen—along with every painting in the show—at www.greenhousegallery.com. You may well find something there that moves you. -June 2010