Santa Fe, NM
May 17-July 31
This story was featured in the May 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art May 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art May 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
This month, Casweck Galleries in Santa Fe presents a retrospective show for the late Ernest Chiriacka (1913-2010). The gallery is co-owned and operated by Chiriacka’s daughter, Athene Westergaard, and it contains the largest collection of the artist’s works in the world. The show opens on May 17 (the Friday following what would have been Chiriacka’s 100th birthday) and features about 50 works spanning the artist’s entire career—from a piece created in 1929, when he was just 16 years old, up to his final sketches in 2009 and 2010.
Born in New York City, Chiriacka began drawing when he was just 3 years old. He started his career as a pulp artist and illustrator and became well known for his Esquire calendar pinups in the 1950s. He soon moved to the West, where he painted portraits of famous actors and created posters for major movie studios in Hollywood. But his commercial success came with considerable stress, eventually causing health problems for the artist. “The doctors encouraged him to stop painting commercial art, so he did,” Westergaard says. “That’s when he started traveling and sketching throughout Europe and the U.S., which led to a completely different style.” In the 1970s, Chiriacka began to devote himself to creating more western-themed art. “He always loved the American West, and he would travel the region for months on end,” Westergaard explains. “He spent a lot of time on Indian reservations and developed great admiration for the lives and history of Native Americans.”
Until now, the gallery has primarily displayed Chiriacka’s cowboy and Indian paintings and sculptures from the 1970s and ’80s. “[For this show] we have a lot more of his pulp art and illustrations, his European-inspired impressionistic paintings and drawings, and even some of the sketches he created in his 90s,” Westergaard says. “We’re really showing his versatility and progression as an artist and how he went through the stages of absorbing what was happening in the arts around him. It’s really quite a history—not just of my father’s work, but of what was happening in the world around him when he created it.” —Lindsay Mitchell
Featured in the May 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art May 2013 digital download
Southwest Art May 2013 print issue
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