Gilcrease Museum, April 10-July 13
This story was featured in the April 2014 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art April 2014 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
At 6 p.m. on Friday, April 11, two of America’s top wildlife artists enter a Hall of Fame into which 64 of their peers have already been inducted. Painter Greg Beecham and sculptor Ross Matteson are honored with a reception and art sale marking the opening of their career retrospectives at the Gilcrease Museum’s Rendezvous. An annual event since 1980, the Rendezvous combines a comprehensive look back at key works created by its honorees, along with a sale of more than a dozen new pieces by each of them.
“The Gilcrease is one of the premier art museums in the country,” says Beecham, who expects to be “busily painting right up to the deadline” in order to showcase “the best that I’ve got” at the event. The Wyoming-based artist’s retrospective features 19 of his radiant, painterly animal portrayals; at least 14 new pieces by him are available for sale, including such works as the charming ARCTIC COMPANIONS.
From his home and studio in Olympia, WA, Matteson sends almost three dozen sculptures for his retrospective; since many of these were produced as limited-edition castings, almost all of them remain available to collectors at the show. These trace the artist’s evolution since 1990, from works like A SECOND CHANCE, a life-size and lifelike bronze of a peregrine falcon; through 1999’s QUAIL CALL, a fine example of the sculptor’s use of simplification and abstraction to capture the essence of the bird; to such recent multimedia works as THE STRUCTURE OF LOVE IS INDESTRUCTIBLE, a remarkably moving and eloquent tribute to the souls lost on 9/11, with twin 10-foot-tall towers of stainless-steel frames supporting glass panels etched with tiny flying doves.
Matteson says he is especially honored to be selected because of the museum’s founder, collector and oilman Thomas Gilcrease (1890-1962). “One of his mandates was to explore and celebrate this cultural collision that is America, and my own work unabashed- ly embraces and distills the beauty of different cultures,” Matteson says.
Gilcrease visitors can enjoy the opportunity to learn about both artists’ philosophies and methods prior to the gala reception, when they give talks about their work—Beecham at 10:30 a.m., Matteson at 1:30 p.m. Other events during the opening weekend include a brunch with the two on Saturday, April 12. The show itself, which continues through July 13, is open to all museum visitors.
The broad reach achieved by the Rendezvous retrospectives is an important part of the museum’s plans, according to Linda Galbraith, director of Gilcrease Museum art sales. “We see this not only as an opportunity to salute two artists and their work but also to bring na-tional attention to Gilcrease Museum,” Galbraith says. “You can see a true cross-section of American art here, in a collection that truly tells the story of the two American continents.” —Norman Kolpas
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