Los Angeles, CA
Autry Museum of the American West, February 6-March 20
This story was featured in the February 2016 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2016 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.
Now in its 19th year, the prestigious Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale continues its tradition of featuring the work of more than 75 top western artists. This year the show turns an eye to the legacy of longtime Autry Museum trustee and special show advisor John J. Geraghty, who passed away in May 2015, with special tributes to honor him during the opening weekend.
This show opens on Saturday, February 6, with a full day of special programming, featuring talks by artists Logan Maxwell Hagege and George Carlson as well as a chuck-wagon luncheon and awards presentation. The day’s highlight is the evening cocktail reception and fixed-price sale-by-draw of 275 artworks, with a portion of the sale’s proceeds benefitting the Autry’s ongoing programming.
“We have some of the best artists in the field in the show,” says President and CEO W. Richard “Rick” West Jr. “And they do some of their best work in connection with this show. They reach a little. John always encouraged them to do so, and we do, too.” Participating artists include Bill Anton, Robert Griffing, Kyle Polzin, Tucker Smith, and Howard Terpning, as well as John Bye, who participates for the first time this year.
Painter Carole Cooke says that by bringing together so many marquee artists, Geraghty created an atmosphere that inspired them to do their best work. This year the Colorado artist contributes two pieces, one of which is a landscape of a vast Montana mountain scene with a meandering river. The impressionist’s work leans toward a traditional style, which is fitting since realism lies at the heart of the show.
California artist Denis Milhomme brings five paintings, each with his signature take on natural realism. Several of his pieces depict the Yosemite Valley, an iconic locale that continues to inspire him. Milhomme says that whether he’s painting the valley from a distance or close up, “I want people to be able to explore it and see all the detail I see while I’m out there.”
Milhomme remembers his first gutsy attempts to talk to Geraghty about a show invitation, which has proven to be a seminal moment in the careers of many of the participating artists. Video interviews with artists, reflecting on Geraghty’s influence, play throughout the weekend in the Western Legacy Theatre, and a commissioned bust of Geraghty is on display for the duration of the show. “He was an impresario when it came to doing an event of this nature. The people coming know this is a nod of the hat to, and embrace of, John’s legacy,” says West.
One element of that legacy is to keep the show fresh. “American western art has engaged for a while in other threads or currents in the larger field of American art. These dynamic changes and adaptations are important—that’s a future for this field. This year we hope to accent not only our inheritance of the past but also our hopes for the future,” West says. —Ashley M. Biggers
See more work at www.southwestart.com/events/autry-feb2016.
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