This story was featured in the July 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art July 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art July 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
Legacy Gallery ushers in its summer season with a presentation of works by Nelson Boren and Terry Donahue. The show opens with a reception from 4 to 6 p.m. on July 5 and includes more than 30 new watercolor and pastel paintings. Boren is a former architect who viewed his profession as a chance to design and build “static, inhabitable art.” As an architect he sketched and drew regularly, but eventually he discovered his passion for creating watercolors dedicated to his own visions. Boren eventually sold his architectural firms and moved his family to a small farm in Idaho, beginning a new life and career in fine art.
Today the artist is known for watercolors that portray the western life of the cowboy and cowgirl. His paintings depict everything from a worn-out pair of cowboy boots to a ranch hand’s faded denim jeans. “Nelson paints layers upon layers of glaze, giving more depth and richness than the typical watercolor,” says the gallery’s Scott Jones. “He creates a lot of texture on the paper using razor blades and wire brushes to distress the paper. No one paints leather quite like Nelson.”
Collectors familiar with Boren’s works also know about his signature brand of humor. In GET’N SERIOUS, two cowboy boots appear to meet, perhaps under a table. One boot is worn by a man and the other by a woman. “The piece reminds us that there are all kinds of ways to let someone know that we’re interested in them,” Boren says. “Holding hands seems to be a typical approach, but there are other ‘hints’ that we can drop. This piece illustrates a simple touch of the boots that might be a first step to ‘gettin’ serious.’”
Nebraska-based painter Terry Donahue is a master of depicting animals in the wild. Whether his creature of choice is a bear or a mare, he is fond of capturing them in motion. In the painting INFINITE SURPRISES, on display in the show, he portrays a horse kicking up its heels, startled by the sight of a snake in its path—a scene the artist witnessed on a painting excursion near Cody, WY.
Born in Minnesota, Donahue developed an early appreciation for nature stemming from the black bears and moose that visited his backyard. Donahue has worked in a variety of media during his career, but he favors pastel because, in part, holding the sticks feels most akin to drawing. And the medium suits his loose, impressionistic style. “Terry conveys a wonderful sense of motion and life in his subjects,” Jones says. “Bold and expressive hues against white or abstracted backgrounds complete the powerful impact of his work.” The gallery has represented Donahue for two years and sold every painting the artist has created for it since them.
For inspiration, Donahue travels to Wyoming about five times a year. He steers clear of national parks and prefers to discover remote locales on his own. Donahue looks for lakes, streams, and rivers where moose, elk, and mule deer might gather. When creating a painting, he works hard at pleasing himself first—satisfying himself that he has captured what he saw and felt on location. “I feel if I can please myself, then I can make a connection with viewers,” Donahue says. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
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