Thursday, December 4, 2008
Your artistic education began at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, and continued at the Massachusetts College of Art and Boston University. How do American and Chinese approaches to fine art education differ?
While I was there, Chinese schools still followed the Soviet method of art education: basic training in drawing, painting, sculpting, all in European, Classical and realist styles. The system was very uniform and every student painted in a similar style and shared the same views on the art of painting.
When I moved to America I pursued contemporary art, which was quite a new experience. Each student and each professor at the Massachusetts College of Art had his own ideas and his own favorite artists. Using each student’s favorite artists, our professors would guide us through the process of learning to paint. This personalized method opened intellectual and artistic doors for me.
Your early work spanned the spectrum of subject matter from still life to figurative to formal portraiture. What motivates you now to paint Native Americans and the American West?
After graduating I returned to my realist roots, painting primarily illustrations, figurative work and formal commissions in order to make a living. The work was not satisfying, and I longed for another direction, something free and brave that would tell a story. It was around this time that I began visiting the outdoor Wampanoag Indian museum at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts. The Wampanoag who worked at the museum were obliging and happy to educate me about their present situation, as well as their history and culture. I was fortunate enough to build friendships with several of these workers, and several agreed to model for me. My first model brought with him not only full historical dress, but a bow and arrow, and more stories and information about the Wampanoag than I could have ever hoped for. My sessions painting this man were like lessons for me, lessons in the history of this country and the present difficulties faced by some of its citizens. I became a passionate advocate for the Wampanoag and Eastern Indians in general, and have never looked back.
You spent several years in field research among American Indian tribes from the East Coast to the Rocky Mountains. The subject of several of your earlier works was the people of Tibet. Do you see similarities between the two groups?
As a matter of fact, I do. The Tibetan paintings were created after a trip I took several years ago. While I was there, I was astonished to discover the resemblance between certain Tibetan and Native American customs. One tradition practiced by the Tibetans is almost identical to a Navajo traveling ritual. Before the steady push by Europeans and Americans across the West, most of the Native Americans were, like the Tibetans, nomadic. Their religions seem very similar as well: both are earth-based, nurturing and grateful for the bounty of the earth.
Are you inspired by other painters of American Western subjects?
Oh, very much! So much so, in fact, that I will have to list several favorites for each era of Western art. Before the widespread use of the camera, George Catlin and Karl Bodmer lived almost as anthropologists in the field, documenting the lives and culture of the Plains Indians in their drawings and paintings.
Later on, Charles Marion Russell and Frederic Remington brought Western art to a new artistic level. During the 19th century the life of the average Native American changed drastically, and the works of Remington and Russell make up the majority of historical information we have left about the earlier years. Each man was a skilled historian, and to this day Remington’s work shows how the Native Americans with whom he worked rode and treated their horses.
For contemporary art, it’s got to be Howard Terpning. Howard is so serious about his research, and his passion is so deep that it shows in every aspect of his work. His understanding of the subject gives his paintings a real authenticity and his skill as a painter turns the scenes into fine art. When you look at Howard’s paintings, you see the marriage of passion for Native American culture and a deep knowledge of painting.
Of all your awards and recognitions, which artistic accomplishment has made you proudest?
There are two. In 1998 I won the People’s Choice and Best of Show awards from the American Society of Portrait Artists. The Oil Painters of America also honored me with their Award of Excellence. These two associations are very well-respected and to win recognition from them is a great honor.
Pueblo Street Market, 1920s
We’ve seen two paperback collections of your work by Tianjin People’s Fine Arts Publishing House in China. Do you have any plans to release a more comprehensive collection for your English-speaking audience?
That’s my plan! With luck, in the next two or three years I can put all my recent work together in a book. The Chinese books are much older work with lots of different subjects, but this book would be primarily my American Indian work. As I paint, lately, I think of how what I’m creating will fit in the book: I want to include a variety of scenes, showing all aspects of life from motherhood to hunting.
While touring to promote his exquisite new book Men and Angels, artist James C. Christensen has given his fair share of interviews. The most recent televised interview took place in his Utah studio. You can watch it at Utah station KSL's website here.
Look for James at a gallery near you! In the next month he will be visiting multiple locations in the Salt Lake City area. For more information visit the events page of The Greenwich Workshop website.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
This past Thursday, as families across the country sat down to hearty meals and gave thanks, five talented artists were rewarded for their exceptional work. The award winners of the second annual SmallWorks North America Exhibition and Sale are now posted on the SmallWorks North America website, where you can view and purchase these terrific original works of art. Congratulations to these and the rest of our Top 40 SmallWorks winners!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Last Saturday I learned one of our local star athletes had accidentally shot himself (late night at a bar, in the leg) with an unregistered hand gun. It was icing on the cake for the 31-year-old’s multi-month, hubris-inspired run at tanking a recently inked $35 million contract to play ball.
I also learned Saturday that a friend of the Workshop’s, Major General David “Davy” M. Jones passed away.
When Jones was 28, he sat in the pilot’s seat of a B-25 on the deck of the carrier Hornet preparing to launch on Doolittle’s raid on Japan. Due to early detection off the Japanese coast, the aircraft would be departing hundreds of miles sooner than planned. They could no longer reach the safe airfields in unoccupied China, as planned. "You knew when you started that we didn't have enough fuel to make it, period. But you couldn't think about that," he said.
A few years later, now the star athlete’s age, he was too was busy rebelling against the authorities (of Stalag Luft III, a German prisoner of war camp) surreptitiously digging the clandestine tunnel “Harry” immortalized in the film The Great Escape. Steve McQueen’s character is based on him. For a great short documentary see The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones (Parts 1 , 2 & 3)( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvJD3HUDYj4 )
Jones, who in 1936 was commissioned in the cavalry reserve, went on to become a major figure in numerous Air Force jet development and test programs. He ran a nuclear bomb wing in NATO at the height of the Cold War. He commanded the Air Force Eastern Test Range at Cape Canaveral during the Apollo program. As he liked to say himself, he went from horses to Mach II.
He cosigned a number of the William S. Phillips’ editions we published depicting the Doolittle Raid. It was during these signings that we met. Into the Arms of the Dragon (above) actually depicts Jones as he bails out of his faltering aircraft over China (which was farther than he believed thought he would get, thanks to a providential tailwind). We painted that image specifically for General Jones. Sadly, when it came time to sign this particular image, he wasn’t well enough to do so. We did get the chance to honor him with the image, though.
My two boys met him at one of these signings, and I hope that one day they will come to appreciate that (though it will probably always mean more to me). Better yet, I hope that they have the opportunity to be inspired by someone of the same caliber (that they too are excited for their children to meet) in the hopes that, one day, this next generation will hold onto the values and achievements that individual represents.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The Pawnee by James Bama
The December issue of Southwest Art magazine, on newsstands now, features a cover story on today's living "Legends of Fine Art." Profiled in the article are three of The Greenwich Workshop's most prominent Western artists: Howard Terpning, James Bama and Don Crowley. The story celebrates "special artists who have displayed a timeless talent that sets them apart from the rest...These living legends have thrived for decades in the notoriously fickle art market. These passionate men and women have spent a lifetime of hard work and soul searching to arrive at their current position of excellence."
For more information, visit Southwest Art's Website.
Friday, November 14, 2008
This weekend, Greenwich Workshop artist Cassandra Barney makes a very special visit to Youngstown, Ohio. Barney was asked to be the guest artist at this year's Rich Center for Autism fundraiser event. The Rich Center was founded in 1995 with the mission of improving the lives of individuals with autism and their families through creativity and education. Cassandra will be speaking at the event and her original painting My Gift is the cornerstone of the evening's auction. My Gift is also available as an extremely limited edition Fine Art Canvas, exclusively through Boardman Gallery in Youngstown. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of Fine Art Canvases will also go to benefit the Rich Center.
For more information, visit The Rich Center's website or Cassandra's website.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Name: Kate Horowitz
Position at The Greenwich Workshop: Writer
Years at The Greenwich Workshop: 2
Newest Work: Men and Angels: The Art of James C. Christensen
Hobbies: Outside of her work for us, Kate is also pursuing a poetry career. Last year, for the first time, she collaborated with Greenwich Workshop Artist Cassandra Barney for a gallery show at Ernst & Ernst Collectors Gallery in Cannon Beach, Oregon, one they will reprise this coming May. To read more about their collaboration visit She Dreamed in Verse and Rhyme. Kate also loves baking and we have come to count on her for cupcakes or muffins at least a few times a month.
Thistle: poem by Kate Horowitz, drawing by Cassandra Barney.
Website: To see more of Kate's poetry visit Things Written Down.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
American Pie by Sandy Mastroni
The greatest annual miniature art show on the East Coast has returned! We have selected the top two hundred entries of original paintings from an enormous pool of talented artists and terrific art. From old favorites to new faces, SmallWorks North America offers something for everyone.
To see and vote for your SmallWorks North America favorites, visit www.smallworksna.com.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The reviews for BIG: The 50 Greatest World Record Catches are pouring in, and the results are unanimous: BIG is a huge success!
As Lance Dellavechia of the Hudson Valley Independent raves, "BIG is a superb coffee table book" that makes "the perfect gift for any nature lover or fish person you have no idea what to buy for. If my dentist had a copy in the waiting room, I might not mind going as much. I sure hope my editor doesn't want this book back!"
Other publications, from the popular "Moldy Chum" blog (http://moldychum.typepad.com/moldy_chum/2008/04/big-50-world-re.html) to Bob Izumi's Real Fishing (http://www.realfishing.com/rf/) have lauded the new book for its comprehensive text, its entertaining historical photographs and, of course, Flick Ford's paintings, of which Dellavechia declares, "only a true fisherman would take the time necessary to honor each species."
To see pages from BIG visit http://www.greenwichworkshop.com/big
Friday, October 24, 2008
Josh and Service Director Dale Hall
Josh edged out a field of over 270 entries in this year’s selection contest. His painting of a long-tailed duck and decoy lends a narrative element to the image that embodies the concept for which the stamp was created. The 1967-1968 Duck Stamp featured the species when they were referred to as “Old Squaws,” making long tailed ducks the first water fowl to be featured as stamps under two names.
Hats off to Josh on this singular achievement!
The winning entry
P.S. A last bit of Duck Stamp trivia: The 2008-2009 featured a typo in the toll-free number that sent people seeking additional copies of the Duck Stamp to a phone sex service. Bet you won’t see a fowl-up like that again! (Sorry, Josh, couldn’t resist.)
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
After waiting out the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Ike on his hometown of Galveston, Texas, Alan Bean recently returned home. Far from defeated by the damage to the area he knows and loves, Alan is back to business as usual. When I spoke to him earlier today he had his priorities straight: "If it hasn't got to do with art or space," he said, "I don't do it. There are men on my roof right now, trying to remove a fallen tree from the second floor and I'm not even watching. I just hope they don't drop it. If they do, we'll deal with it later, but for now I've got my hands full."
He certainly has--an exhibition of his work just opened at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Library in Austin, Texas. This coming summer, for the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum will unveil a major exhibition of Alan's paintings. That same month, a new book of his collected works will hit store shelves. We don't blame you, Alan, if you haven't got time to chat!
image courtesy Getty Images
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Greenwich Workshop team member Joe Landry leads something of a double life. In addition to working as our all-around web guy, his plays have been produced across the country, and include It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Reefer Madness, Eve & Co., Beautiful, Hollywood Babylon, and Numb. His other adaptations include Death in Venice and Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play.
Mr. Landry attended Playwright's Horizons/NYU and is the founder of Second Guess Theatre Company. His produced screenplays include Who Would Jesus Date?.
Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play will premiere this month at the Legacy Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information visit: http://www.vintagehitchcock.com/ or Joe's website at http://www.joelandry.com
Monday, October 6, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
For Simon, Kat and Guy Combes, the Soysambu Conservancy was more than a conservation effort: for many years, the artists called the conservancy home. The preserve, located just below the equator in Kenya, includes in its mission working to "...sustain wildlife species, indigenous livestock and habitat; support local conservation initiatives; facilitate neighbouring development and educate the community in the value of flora and fauna, in order to preserve the Rift Valley Ecosystem for the benefit of future generations."
Friday, September 26, 2008
Check it out! Emily McPhie made an appearance in Southwest Art Magazine's "21 Under 31" feature, which focused on "exciting young artists ...poised at the very beginning of their fine-art journey." They couldn't be more correct.
This has been a banner year for Dan. In addition to the People's Choice award, he also debuted as the first-ever recipient of the Eiteljorg Museum's Artist of Distinction, and his works were the star of the recent Jackson Hole Art Auction.
Saturation Point, 10 x 10
http://www.wildlifeart.org/WesternVisions/ for more of the results from Western Visions.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Flick and Robert landed some really nice brookies, three of which were master-angler size (over 20 inches). Flick topped this list with his 23.5 inch brookie that he fooled with his personally-tied, articulated "meat" leech pattern.
Thanks to Angling on the Fly's blog for the photos. Including this one of the team and Flick eating….steak for dinner!
Flick will be back on the road next month for his gallery and bookstore tour in support of his new book BIG: The 50 Greatest World Record Catches.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
"Duct-taped duck is animal abuse, not art
In the Aug. 31 paper, we noticed an advertisement on Main 21. It was Gallery 601, with the address at 211 N. 10th St. Who in their right mind would title or submit a photo or painting with a duck that has been wrapped with duct tape and call it art and stating, "Come Join the Fun." We feel this advertisement is very offensive and that the artist should be psychologically evaluated.
It wasn't too long ago where this same action was literally done by local kids who had brought the goose or duck to school also duct-taped. This action was addressed by animal protection services and the kids were suspended. The local television news team had broadcast this abuse, and now you are endorsing this? The local newscasters said the duck was injured and in the care of the Idaho Humane Society.
Although art is a broad subject, some things are not appropriate subject matter. You wouldn't show a picture of a woman with a black eye and say, "Come Join the Fun," would you? Please address this matter accordingly. "
Well, as Douglas Adams wrote: If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands. Film at 11:00!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Monday, September 8, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Dan was selected for this honor by having the best overall display of artwork at the 2007 Quest Show. The exhibit features paintings from throughout Dan’s career and is a great space in which to view them. Dan’s new paintings at this year’s Quest for the West are:
Lost and Found, 17 x 30
For more information, visit www.eiteljorg.org
Morning on Honey Creek, 24 x 58
Wolf in Cedars, 30 x 40