JERRY GOROSKI is the consultant appraisar to whom I refer inquiries about Scriver bronzes. He is formally trained and certified to do assessments and knew Bob Scriver as well as working for the CM Russell Museum in Great Falls. His gallery is called "Open Range Art."


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

"American Art Review" (July/Aug 2005)

“American Art Review” (July/Aug 2005) is not a cowboy art magazine, but includes most kinds of representational art -- impressionist, plein aire, and so on. The articles included are scholarly, usually having been written by curators to accompany exhibits.

This issue warms the cockles of my heart (what are cockles anyway?) because it includes two articles from out here where some people think there is “nothing.” One is from the Winold Reiss show in Kalispell this summer and the other, rather surprisingly about The Taos Society of Artists, is from Spokane.

But first want to mention my hobbyhorse about cafe art. On p. 51 is a wonderfully atmospheric nighttime portrait of a little sidewalk cafe in Rome called “St. Marks Mozart,” by Marilyn Simandle. The musicians in question are under a glowing marquee while the clientele seems to be largely missing, maybe because of rain. The cathedral takes up one-fourth of the painting, which is impressionistic.

Another favorite subject sub-genre of mine is doorways. In this issue is a very geometric and white (p. 57) entry to “French Quarter Gallery” by Dean Mitchell. An excellent example of the “golden proportion” of one-fifth to four-fifths, a strict watercolor, and yet evocative. On p. 64 is another near example of the proportion, but this time it is a series of entries on both sides of a street -- one white in the sun, one red in the shade. “Ancient Colors” by Lisa Bloomingdale Bell.

Another red entry way on p. 72. “Work Detail” by Aline E. Ordmann puts a janitor under a noble arch. On page 80 a white entryway, the Best of Show in the Paint Annapolis 2005 plein air event in which the artists do exactly that: go out to paint scenes in Annapolis for the day, then re-convene for sales and awards. The porch in question is “Front Porch Geraniums” by Robert Barber. Only one plant sports a red bloom.

One that really apeals to me is historical: Frederick Childe Hassam’s “The Stairs” 1888. P. 119. A mother and child at the top of sunny stairs that evidently open into a home. A calico cat is crouched on one stair. I’m especially fond of Hassam because he painted in Portland, OR, where I grew up, and I’ve seen a lot of his work. He seems to me “the way a painter ought to paint.” Another master is on page 120: John Singer Sargent’s painting of the stairs to “Scuola di San Rocco.” There’s another next to it on the same page, “Street Scene at Capri” 1899 by Elihu Veder. It’s too small to tell very much, but could be interesting.

The captions in this magazine, like the captions in the National Sculpture Society magazine, always bug me because I can’t separate them from the text. There are lines, but I can’t see them very well -- old I am and wearing varifocal lenses. The captions are grouped in the middle -- one would think I’d learn that -- but sometimes they’re NOT. And my eye has to go back and forth, searching, while I try to figure out what I’m looking at. Maybe a pastel color block background?

Anyway, “Enchanted Visions: The Taos Society of Artists and Ancient Cultures” includes a photo of the culprits ( no women) who could be said to have invented Western art, at least in the SW. The museum has a website: There is a 44 page catalogue booklet. Show lasts thru 9/25/05.

Much of the essay is about the models, how they were posed and paid. This is fair enough since so many of these paintings were portraits. Couse painted so many, so idealized and so typical, that a certain kind of subject is called a “Cousing Indian.”

The paintings shown are:

By Bert Geer Phillips:
“Watergrass” . (Title painted on the painting.)
“Spectators at Winter Ceremonial, Taos Pueblo”

By Oscar Berninghaus
“Racers at the Pueblo”
“Pueblo Indian Life”

By E. Martin Hennings
“Indian Hunters Among the Aspens”

By Walter Ufer
“The Entertainer”
“The Listeners” 1920

By (William) Victor Higgins
“Apaches” c. 1918
(In regards to this one, compare with the Kenneth Riley “Plains Motif” on p. 37 in the September “Southwest Art.” The intersection of reality and abstraction is similar as well as the palette, though Higgins does an interesting thing by putting his foreground figures in shadow, even a hawk.)

By Joseph Henry Sharp
“Sage and Thistle”
“Studio Visitors”
On p. 20 is a good Sharp painting of Blackfeet or Crow lodges. Sharp is also considered a “cowboy artist.”

By William Herbert “Buck” Dunton
“The Hostiles” 1915
Dunton is included in the “cowboy artist” canon as well. On p. 35 is a fine example of “night” painting: “Above the Bed Ground”

By Ernest Blumenschein
“Indians Entertaining the Cheyenne”
Not hard to figure out that the cold climate prairie Cheyenne are wearing dark clothes and cowboy hats, which the SW Indians dress in white. Look at the proportion of light to dark in the figures: one-fifth to four-fifths?

“Winold Reiss: Artist for the Great Northern” will be on view through 10/18/05. 24 page catalogue for $25 and worth it. This article is by the same author, Scott J. Tanner, who is joined by Linda Engh-Grady. The opening was attended by Renate Reiss, widow of Tjark Reiss, Winold’s son. She and other members of the family maintain the key website from the Reiss’ family estate in New York.

The paintings, all portraits, include:
“Bull Boy--Blackfeet, 1943”
“Calling First” 1935
“Under Owl Woman with Child” (Julia Wades in the Water and granddaughter.)
“Heavy Head” 1935
“Heavy Shield” (version 1)1927
“Snowbird, Papoose” 1931
“Roasting Stick” 1944
“Mudhead, Bear Society-Piegan” 1943

There are two photos of Reiss at work, one indoors and one outdoors. I presume the boy in the outdoor one was Tjark, who was the same age as Bob Scriver (b. 1914). I don’t know who put that lodge up, but they sure did a bad job! Must not have been any grandmothers around!

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