We catch up with 13 artists we’ve featured in the past
This story was featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art May 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Featured in 2006
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? The most definite changes were confidence and feeling more comfortable exploring new themes while remaining loyal to my artistic style, vision, and personal interpretation.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? I was very fortunate to have been discovered by more galleries, giving me opportunities to present my work to sophisticated, serious collectors. Solo shows throughout the country and invitational museum shows led to international exposure for my work and participation in the International Modern Masters exhibit in London in the fall of 2013. In 2012, my hardcover coffee-table book was published. In the fall of 2014, I opened Andre Kohn Fine Art Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? In the summer of 2005 I spent my last savings on a three-month course at the Studio Escalier in France in pursuit of a unique approach to painting and drawing the human figure. Upon my return, I was inspired to apply the newly learned skills, which led to more success and personal satisfaction. I returned to France to hone my skills even further in the summer of 2007.
What are your goals for the future? To continue growing!
What galleries represent your work? Andre Kohn Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ; Shaw Gallery, Naples, FL; Waterhouse Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA; Joe Wade Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM; Jones & Terwilliger Galleries, Carmel, CA; Howard/Mandville Gallery, Kirkland, WA; Mary Martin Gallery of Fine Art, Charleston, SC; The Hillier Gallery, London, UK; www.andrekohnfineart.com.
Featured in 2006
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? My work has become much more grounded, and I’ve refined my brush stroke and composition. I go after my subject matter much more boldly, which can be frightening, but when the resolution arrives on the canvas, it is much more satisfying. Instead of trying to demand the viewers’ attention with bright, in-your-face colors, I gently invite them in with a color palette reminiscent of the 1940s: rich burnt oranges, brassy greens, grayish plums, and that wonderful dark red from that period. Although my work has become much more abstract, there is always a glimmer of truth in it.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? My husband and I published a book with his poems inspired by my paintings about our trip to Cuba. Our second book coincides with my one-woman show at Abend Gallery entitled Beyond the Iron Curtain. I’ve also gained representation at three new galleries.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? Finally painting what I’m passionate about—pushing myself to move out of my comfort zone is definitely apparent in my work, and the response from collectors and gallery owners has been tremendous.
What are your goals for the future? I want to focus on one-woman shows; I have at least three series in my head just waiting to come out.
What galleries represent your work? Abend Gallery, Denver, CO; Reflection Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Act I Gallery, Taos, NM; Mary Williams Fine Arts, Boulder, CO; Elements 5280 Gallery, Greenwood Village, CO.
R. Tom Gilleon
Featured in 2009
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? My work has not changed a great deal since I last appeared on the cover of Southwest Art magazine. The one area of change is probably not that noticeable. I have cut back on the number of paintings I produce and spend much more time on each one, not in the “paint, brush, and canvas” period but rather in the planning and concept stages.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? My greatest accomplishments since then are, I believe, a solo show at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA, a solo show at the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, MT, and also the release of the new digital installation paintings, one of which is now in the permanent collection of the C.M. Russell Museum.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? The biggest turning point was probably the day I decided to do a teepee painting just for kicks, thinking all the while that it was most likely a waste of paint and canvas, but fun! Another big turning point was the huge surprise at finding out that one of the subsequent teepee paintings was appearing on the cover of Southwest Art magazine. The notice and comments from that cover were a huge boost. The record sale price for my painting titled HAIR APPARENT was another turning point.
What galleries represent your work? Altamira Fine Art in Jackson, WY, and Scottsdale, AZ.
Featured in 2007
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? I have explored a broader range of feelings and movement. Until a few years ago my work consisted primarily of female figures conveying thoughtfulness and serenity. In recent years I have expressed joy, romance, heartbreak, humor, and gratitude as well as capturing the energy of celebrating and dancing. My process of welding the original sculpture with sheet metal makes the male figure especially challenging, but I have enjoyed creating western guys and spirited gals to keep them company.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? What I value most as an artist are the special friendships I have made in the art world. These friends include the gallery owners and sales personnel, my collectors, the individuals involved in art shows, communities who have purchased my sculptures for their municipal art programs, and the professionals who help me with the bronze casting process and the marketing of my work.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? When I became comfortable with who I am and confident in my style of sculpture.
What are your goals for the future? Simplify life, work on limiting distractions, have more time for creating, explore new ways to use angles and planes to express feeling and movement, and spend more time with loved ones.
What galleries represent your work? Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, CA; SmithKlein Gallery, Boulder, CO; Alexandra Stevens Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM; Dean Day Gallery, Houston, TX; Jane Hamilton Fine Art, Tucson, AZ; L’Attitude Gallery, Boston, MA.
Featured in 2006
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? I don’t think it has changed a whole lot. I was pretty much established in the way I like to work. I now am thinking more about some changes, like doing larger paintings with more figures in them and dealing more with backgrounds and foregrounds.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? I have been featured in several articles in art magazines. I have also been in a number of significant shows, and in some of them, I also have won awards. I’ve been in the Arts for the Parks competitions, Oil Painters of America National Juried Exhibition of Traditional Oils, OPA’s Western Regional Exhibition, and the American Plains Artists Juried Art Show.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? The article in Southwest Art in 2006. People learned who I was. I had several galleries call and want to represent me. My sales improved. So, it was a really important article for me.
What are your goals for the future? To get into more important shows such as Prix de West at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale at the Autry National Center.
What galleries represent your work? Broschofsky Galleries, Ketchum, ID; Logan Fine Art Gallery, Logan, UT; Mountain Trails Gallery, Jackson, WY, and Park City, UT; NanEtte Richardson Fine Art, San Antonio, TX; Sage Creek Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; and Southam Gallery Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT.
Wallace Nez Jr.
Featured in 2007
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? My artwork has always been influenced by my personal life experiences. I am singlehandedly raising three teenagers and one “tween.” Now, more than ever, I use my art as a creative outlet and a way for me to disconnect and allow my mind to relax and wonder. Also, I am experimenting with different clay compositions and firing techniques. I feel that my artwork has evolved and will continue to evolve and change as I mature as a family man, brother, son, and uncle.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? Remaining relevant within the artistic community despite the economy and personal changes. I feel proud of myself and extremely proud of my kids. Our traditional Navajo beliefs and the confidence in knowing we have a strong family bond is paramount. And being able to do what I love on a daily basis and have people appreciate what I create out of clay has been the icing on the cake.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? The economy has played a huge role. I’ve learned how important it is to play an active role in marketing myself and to find creative ways of accomplishing that.
What are your goals for the future? I have plans to collaborate with several different artists, combining their artistic styles and mediums with my clay pieces.
Featured in 2005
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? I’m looser with paint, and my subjects have become simpler. In getting to the essence of the subject, we find ourselves, and making an expression of that draws others in.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? About eight years ago I was commissioned to do work for a church I attend. Due to the contemporary architecture, I felt compelled to explore abstract themes. I was producing large canvases up to 4 by 8 feet. This process stretched my notions about composition, color, and painting technique. The abstract aspect informed the realistic watercolor work by adjusting my attention to details and my approach to paint application, and it helped me simplify compositions.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? Several years ago I began working in pastels. Because of their “blunt” nature, I can’t get too fussy about details, which pushes me to concentrate on composition, values, and color, which lands me in a more impressionistic response. As with the abstract project, working in pastels has enriched my work in watercolor.
What are your goals for the future? I might explore mixing various media, but I will always return to watercolor painting on paper. I enjoy drawing or working on paper, and watercolor simply extends the act of drawing into color.
What galleries represent your work? Morris & Whiteside Galleries, Hilton Head Island, SC; Broadmoor Galleries, Colorado Springs, CO; Patricia Ladd Carega Gallery, Center Sandwich, NH; Gallery at Brookwood, Brookshire, TX; Marta Stafford Fine Art, Marble Falls, TX; www.markstewartwatercolor.com.
Melissa J. Cooper
Featured in 2009
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? I hope that I have created sculpture that is true to the nature of the subject. I hope the viewer is able to look in the eyes of my work and see emotion and expression. Recently I have sculpted wall pieces: birds on branches, where they look more at home in their natural setting.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? One of my greatest thrills is when clients send me pictures of their purchases of my work, showing how they’re using and enjoying them in their homes. That’s what makes me feel I have accomplished my goal. It blesses my heart.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? Moving to a new area with more wildlife in my backyard. I have so many more varieties of birds and wildlife, and I can view and enjoy their attitudes and see how they interact with each other. I have new inspiration and adventure every day, which makes me smile.
What are your goals for the future? To create sculpture that is true to nature with personality and to produce work that is new and different. Most of all, thanking my Lord Jesus for the ability to create and use the gifts he has given me and to try to do my best to imitate his creation.
What galleries represent your work? Breckenridge Gallery, Breckenridge, CO; Bronze Coast Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR; Cogswell Gallery, Vail, CO; Galerie Kornye West, Fort Worth, TX; Mary Martin Gallery of Fine Art, Charleston, SC; Meyer East Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Squash Blossom, Colorado Springs, CO; www.melissajcooper.com.
Featured in 2007
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? It has not so much changed as grown. I do lots of reading, art viewing, and traveling. Viewing other artists’ work opens up my eyes and mind, and it also adds ideas and methods that I had not considered. I have been fortunate enough to visit the Prado and the Louvre in the past few years. I was enlightened and taken aback by what an amazing enterprise art is in its historical and evolutionary settings.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? A few years back, I had an exhibit at Nuart Gallery in Santa Fe, NM, that brought together a constructed, painted house, a super-sized painting, clay figures, and a wonderful group of supporting paintings. The multitude of ideas, forms, and color that make up any artwork reflects the experience and knowledge of the artist acquired over time.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? I remember when I won Best of Show at the Colorado State Fair a long while back. After that, I devoted myself to painting more seriously, although I had been drawing and painting for more than 40 years at that point.
What are your goals for the future? To continue to paint and exhibit and to work in other media, like clay and animation. And to compile more books based on my images.
Featured in 2005
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? I believe time has a way of showing you the subtle fine-tuning needed for the technique, movement, and expression of a piece of work; with time, it becomes an effortless flow. I started my career making large pieces only; then I realized that not everyone can fit a life-sized piece in their lives. Now I make pieces in a variety of sizes, with many small editions available.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? Honestly, my greatest accomplishment has been raising my four children, enjoying every minute, and offering every other minute I find to my work. I’ve also learned how to better promote my work, which led to opening my own gallery.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? The biggest turning point for me was to realize that I need to look in the direction of public art. The 15 horses I placed at the New Mexico School for the Deaf was my first large installation; then I showed five large horses at La Posada de Santa Fe Resort & Spa, and the idea caught on. I’m now showing at Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado, Bishop’s Lodge, and Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe.
What are your goals for the future? It’s time to take my art to the world; I am ready to travel and plant large herds of horses as I go.
What galleries represent your work? Hollander Gallery, Santa Fe, NM; Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM.
Featured in 2005
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? My process is less constrained and controlled. I have a lot more actual fun painting. Time spent in workshops with significantly accomplished artists, learning new techniques and approaches, was key in quelling those universal uncertainties of direction, intention, and motivation.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? Having the opportunity to do a painting for the Lawai International Center. Owning a successful gallery, developing lasting relationships with collectors and art lovers, and representing a talented group of artists. We had opulent openings, did outrageous performance pieces, and held interesting workshops for adults and children. We made a positive, progressive difference in the Steamboat Springs art community. Also doing a 40-foot cliff drop into the ocean on Kauai. It wasn’t the airtime or the jump but embracing my tremendous fear of water that was oh-so-liberating. I saw a profoundly fearless change in my work after that.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? Recognizing the greater connection between everything and trusting it. Along with that, any remnant of self-consciousness or inner critic gets kicked out of the studio, creating a great field of possibility with ample room for exploration and expression. I paint more for myself now versus a commercially oriented starting point. It feels authentic.
What are your goals for the future? To continue to focus.
What galleries represent your work? Center for Visual Arts, Steamboat Springs, CO; Indigo Gallery, Fort Collins, CO; William Havu Gallery, Denver, CO; Giorgio’s Art, Hanapepe, Kauai, HI; www.susanschiesser.30art.com.
Featured in 2008
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? My artistic concept of integration and functionality continues to unfold in my work, celebrating materials from a historical perspective, both from the natural word and hand-creation. In my current work, I utilize fossils, minerals, and crystals from the earth, incorporating these amazing historical specimens into sculptures utilizing traditional forging processes, which keeps me directly in contact with the material.
What have been your greatest accomplishments since then? I’d have to say observing our grown sons and daughters becoming full-time artists, nurturing them, and watching them evolve into artists speaking their own voices. My wife, Cheri, an oil painter, and I recently opened Vilona Gallery in Boulder, CO, presenting our family’s and other artists’ works.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? Finding my voice by using more natural elements in my work, such as fossils and minerals, as well as complementing the earth’s story by being able to go full circle, has been my big turning point.
What are your goals for the future? To be able to sculpt and create my art long into my 80s, to be active and able to ski with my family and grandchildren, and to support their artistic pursuits.
What galleries represent your work? Vilona Gallery, Boulder, CO; Mousai Gallery, Carbondale, CO; Ramey Fine Art, Palm Desert, CA; Dolce, Telluride, CO; By Nature Gallery, Beaver Creek, CO, and Jackson, WY.
David K. John
Featured in 2006
How has your artwork changed since you were last featured? As an artist your art is always changing. I do a lot of experimenting. So, my subject matter and style have changed a little. I’ve been doing more paintings that are related to my culture, the Diné People. These paintings have stories, symbolic meanings, and ideas from my background. I’ve been doing research and talking to people about the mythologies of my people. The paintings have animals, birds, insects, and most of all, the deities that are related to those stories.
What has been your greatest accomplishment since then? Working with kids and young artists. I’ve been going to schools, workshops, and art shows, showing my work and talking about the business side of art. It’s really satisfying. All my ideas and creations come from the teachings of my elders. All I’m doing is passing these teachings to the next generations. It’s the creations that will be here long after I’m gone. This will be my accomplishment.
What has been the biggest turning point in your career? When I first took an art class in high school, my art instructor encouraged me to continue with my art. He knew I had the talent and desire to take the next step. That really changed my thoughts about being a professional artist. From that moment on, everything fell into place.
What galleries represent your work? James Ratliff Gallery, Sedona, AZ; Little Bird at Loretto, Santa Fe, NM; Toh-Atin Gallery, Durango, CO; Wright’s Indian Art, Albuquerque, NM; Hogan Trading Company, Moab, UT; Buffalo Trails Trading Company, Virgin, UT; Taos Blue, Taos, NM; Tribal Arts, Springdale, UT; TP Gallery, Salt Lake City, UT.
Featured in the May 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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