Show Preview | Autry National Center: Masters of the American West

Los Angeles, CA
February 1-March 16

Morgan Weistling, Family Traditions, oil, 40 x 50.

Morgan Weistling, Family Traditions, oil, 40 x 50.

This story was featured in the February 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art February 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

A who’s who of top representational artists are on hand for the February 1 opening of the annual Masters of the American West show at the Autry National Center. Many of the 82 painters and sculptors are stellar names to collectors and enthusiasts, including Howard Terpning, Tammy Garcia, Mian Situ, George Carlson, Bill Anton, Z.S. Liang, Tucker Smith, Robert Griffing, and Morgan Weistling.

The day-long event, open to ticket holders, complements the approximately 275 works on display with talks by artists William Acheff and Peter 
Adams, a midday open-air chuck wagon barbecue buffet and awards presentation, and an evening cocktail reception at which artworks are sold by draw. The evening before, at a special dinner for artists and Patron-level show sponsors, four major works—by Terpning, Situ, Liang, and Kyle Polzin—are sold in a first-time-ever live auction conducted by top auctioneer Troy Black. Ticket holders for Saturday’s opening events may place bids through proxies. All 
show proceeds support the Autry’s 
educational programs, collection conservation, and other initiatives.

In its 17 years, the Masters has vaulted to the pinnacle of western art exhibitions by elevating quality above commerce. “This show is about the artists, period,” says John Geraghty, an Autry trustee, special show advisor, and its champion since the beginning. “I am really pleased with how they challenge themselves each year to do their best for the Masters.”

Z.S. Liang, Joe Kipp, Trader, Missouri River, 1879, oil, 44 x 68.

Z.S. Liang, Joe Kipp, Trader, Missouri River, 1879, oil, 44 x 68.

The artists more than rise to that challenge. “Once they’ve accepted you, then it’s up to you to present the very best you have,” says painter Morgan Weistling, who is participating for his 15th year. One of the four works he has in the show, entitled FAMILY TRADITIONS, depicts multiple generations of a western family gathered in the kitchen to bake pies. The title holds extra meaning for him, considering he’s one of three members of his own family exhibiting this year. Wife JoAnn Peralta returns for her fifth year, and their 18-year-old daughter, Brittany Weistling, is among the show’s guest artists for the second time.

Many artists speak warmly of their bonds with fellow Masters participants. “Being able to hang my work on the same wall with some of my living art heroes is amazing,” says figurative painter Jeremy Lipking, participating for the first time this year with TURQUOISE AND BLUE, a portrait of his 9-year-old daughter, Skylar—a painting Geraghty likens to “a Dutch master, with all its lost edges and beautiful values.” And Logan Maxwell Hagege, in for his second year with MESA DRIFTERS and four other paintings, especially looks forward to showing and connecting with fellow landscapists including Len Chmiel and George Carlson. “You see such a huge stylistic variety among artists at the show,” Hagege observes. “But they’re all masters at what 
they’re doing.”

Such a dynamic combination of 
diversity and quality has always been the show’s mission. “It may sound a little corny,” concludes Geraghty, “but we feel honored to be able to form an exhibition of this caliber and bring to the Autry artists and collectors from all over the United States.” —Norman Kolpas

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Featured in the February 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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