Show Preview | Quest for the West

Indianapolis, IN
Eiteljorg Museum, September 7-October 14

Joseph McGurl, Girl of the Golden West: The Sailing Canoe, oil, 20 x 30.

Joseph McGurl, Girl of the Golden West: The Sailing Canoe, oil, 20 x 30.

This story was featured in the September 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Western art lovers who make the trek to the Quest for the West Art Show and Sale this month in Indianapolis, IN, are treated to Hoosier hospitality and first dibs on 200 new artworks by 50 leading western painters and sculptors. Ticketed opening-weekend festivities kick off at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art on Friday, September 7, and culminate in a lively gala and art sale on Saturday night. As in years past, most of the artists are on hand to meet and mingle with collectors during this warm and welcoming affair.

“It’s like a big homecoming or family reunion,” says Johanna M. Blume, the museum’s associate curator of western art, history, and culture. “This is true for the staff and the patrons—you get to know the artists so well at Quest.” Now in its 13th year, the star-studded show welcomes back many veteran participants, including Robert Griffing, C. Michael Dudash, Gladys Roldan-de-
Moras, Heide Presse, and Logan Maxwell Hagege. And joining the roster for the first time are other marquee names like Brent Cotton, Donna Howell-Sickles, Mark Kelso, and Terri Kelly Moyers. In true Quest for the West fashion, the exhibition showcases a variety of western themes in diverse genres and mediums, from mixed-media portraits of cowgirls to traditional wildlife sculptures and oil paintings.

Contemporary luminist Joseph McGurl brings GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST: THE SAILING CANOE, a shimmering mountain river scene inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s opera La Fanciulla del West, a Wild West-era love story about a frontier woman and an outlaw. As viewers might guess, McGurl’s eponymous landscape painting is more about golden sunlight than the musical’s narrative, he says. Using plein-air sketches he completed in the Tetons as reference, the artist used glazes, scumbling, and impasto to create the illusion of reflected sunlight. “The sailing canoe was added to reinforce this subject, with the light filtering through the backlit sail,” he adds. “And instead of the heroine and her lover riding off into the sunset, here they sail away.”   

Like McGurl, longtime Quest participant George Hallmark routinely looks to the light for inspiration. In his painting LA PARROQUIA, the Texas artist moves beyond western locales and landscapes to explore another one of his favorite subjects: Mexico’s splendid cathedrals. “The beautiful colonial town of San Miguel de Allende is filled with opulent mansions and handsome churches,” says Hallmark of his painting’s setting. “However, located on the Plaza Allende is the magnificent Parroquia. Any hour of the day it’s dazzling, but at dusk it’s simply glorious!”

Opening-weekend events get underway on Friday at noon with a tour of the nearby Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. At 5 p.m., collectors head to the museum for a reception and sale of miniature artworks by Quest artists. Also, in honor of Howard Post—last year’s Artist of Distinction award winner—the museum unveils a special exhibition featuring 18 of the Arizona artist’s paintings, completed between 1991 and 2017. “It’s a beautiful show,” says Blume. “There are familiar themes Howard returns to again and again, such as horses, corrals, and ranchscapes, as he calls them. When you see how he has treated these subjects over time, you see a beautiful evolution in color, texture, and the way he plays with light.”

The fine-art bonanza continues on Saturday with a luncheon at 11 a.m., when the Harrison Eiteljorg Purchase Award winner is announced. The gala begins at 5 p.m., when collectors can mingle with the artists and bid on artworks. The sound of a bugle heralds a luck-of-the-draw art sale at 6:30 p.m., and a banquet and awards ceremony follow at 8 p.m. The exhibition opens to the public on Sunday, September 9, and remains on view through October 14. Artworks not sold during the gala can be purchased through October 7. —Kim Agricola

contact information
317.636.9378
www.eiteljorg.org

This story was featured in the September 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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