Santa Fe, NM
Manitou Galleries, August 21-September 4
This story was featured in the August 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
For Kim Wiggins, painting is personal, and his subjects are rooted in his Southwest home. Growing up on a ranch in southern New Mexico with a photojournalist father, a rodeo cowgirl mother, and two great-uncles who died at the Alamo, “Storytelling is a family tradition,” Wiggins says. “I view myself as a modern-day storyteller who paints the unexpected in western art.”
The Art of Enchantment—Wiggins’ solo show at Manitou Galleries, which opens with an artist’s reception from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on August 21 and closes on September 4—is a peek inside the heart and mind of the artist, who weaves family history and personal feelings into his vibrant, dynamic paintings.
“Kim’s bright and vivid palette recalls the intense, crisp New Mexico light,” says Matthew Mullins, marketing director at Manitou Galleries. “His curved and restless lines recall the wild spring winds, and his subject matter recalls one’s sense of deeply rooted history in this region.”
Wiggins’ great love for his area can be seen in a number of paintings in the show but especially in his historical painting FIESTAS DE SANTA FE. In this detailed work depicting the annual celebration of Don Diego de Vargas’ 1692 peaceful reoccupation of Santa Fe, Wiggins portrays the fiesta as it took place at the end of the 19th century. In another historical work, LATE SNOW AT CHIMAYO, worshipers enter El Santuario de Chimayo, a Catholic church 27 miles north of Santa Fe and a popular pilgrimage destination during the early part of the 20th century.
The majority of the two dozen paintings on exhibit are landscapes of northern New Mexico, including one of the high country in which a herd of elk graze under fall foliage and below looming mountains. For the past five years Wiggins has been painting works highlighting wildlife’s challenge to survive. “As our society advances, hopefully people will still see the need to protect these amazing symbols of the great American West,” he says.
Wiggins takes many road trips to the northern part of the state to gather reference materials, usually sketches and photos, for new works. He’s primarily interested in the rhythm and flow of the land and expressing this movement by distorting his images. “It’s a type of distortion that allows me to focus on feelings,” says Wiggins. “My goal is to capture the heart of an area.”
One of the show’s most heartfelt paintings is THE CYCLE OF LIFE, one work in a series with the same name that he started in 1992, just before the death of his father, Walt. “There are basically three elements in this painting,” he explains. “The cow skull, which came from my dad and originally was found on my grandfather’s ranch, represents death. The sunflowers represent resurrection life. My dad loved Pendleton blankets, and the blanket in the painting represents our love.” —Emily Van Cleve
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