Astoria Fine Art, July 3-5
This story was featured in the July 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art July 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Astoria Fine Art’s annual Fourth of July Showcase, which traditionally features Joshua Tobey, adds a second highly collected artist, G. Russell Case, to the show this year. “Putting those two artists together is a rare case of having two highly sought-after artists in one show,” says managing partner Greg Fulton. For this weekend event, there’s no opening reception; rather, the artists visit the gallery from 1 to 5 p.m. each day to speak with collectors. “It’s like a three-day reception. People can come and go as they please,” says Fulton.
The show features some 60 pieces of Tobey’s work—ranging from tabletop to life-size—including eight new bronzes. On the walls Case showcases a dozen of his popular landscapes. “We wanted someone who matches Joshua’s talents. You wouldn’t think that contemporary wildlife sculpture would blend well with traditional southwestern painting, but within that room, it’s a cohesive mix,” says Fulton.
The collection of Tobey’s new work includes several bear sculptures, a subject for which he’s widely known. He also presents subject matter that he’s never previously sculpted, including WISE GUY, a great horned owl; HITCHHIKER, a heron standing on the back of a turtle; and SIESTA, a snoozing rabbit. Water creatures and birds have increasingly drawn the Colorado artist’s attention. “It’s about shape and composition. The turtle, the heron, and the owl are fascinating because the nuances of those species are wonderful to sculpt,” he says. Of course, Tobey imbues each sculpture with his trademarks: a unique and intuitively perceived personality, and an elegant patina.
Of showing with Tobey, Case remarks, “I feel like a squirrel who’s gotten a nut. I feel very lucky to show with him. I think we show well together. We have a similar approach to form and shape.” The Utah artist—whose timeless landscapes often remind viewers of those painted a century ago by Maynard Dixon—hangs works featuring his perennial subject: vast, expansive western deserts. “I like the simplification of the desert, the palette, the high key, the emptiness. You can also feel [that] these are places you won’t want to have to survive [in] for a long time, where you can imagine going through the country on horseback knowing there are hundreds of miles between you and civilization,” he observes. “My view of technique is that it has to take a back seat to everything else. I just want to do a spontaneous recording of what I’m seeing at the moment. I tend to avoid a formula.”
Case’s collection also includes a handful of works inspired by canyon country. Fulton observes, “For this show, he’s gone into the backcountry for new vistas, reconnecting with his subject matter. I think we’re going to see some landscapes and vantage points we haven’t seen from him before…. It’s just as exciting for me as for the customers.” —Ashley M. Biggers
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