Southwest Art

By the time you read this, we'll have a new president. Thankfully. I couldn't take the carpet-bombing election coverage anymore. What big stories did we miss in the endless race for the White House? The market crash was brewing for some time; but I heard nothing until AIG and Lehman imploded. I'm sure I wasn't the only one threatening her broker last spring. If I knew there was big trouble in River City, why didn't the nets?


Maybe they were distracted. The Olbermann-O'Reilly catfight, the Carville and Matalin of cable TV, is a reminder that ego trumps all in the wacky world of anchordom. Personally, I like "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer." He and his colleagues are calm. They are reasonable. Or as my mother would say: "Enough with the shouting. You want to shout? Go to a ballgame."

In short, we all need a visual break. Here's one: Southwest Art. And this is some region to showcase: the deserts, the buttes, the forests. When the aliens landed, they could have popped into Times Square or parked on Boston Common. Instead, they chose Roswell, New Mexico? Just coincidence?

I bet Southwest Art doesn't think so.

The attractive pub showcases exhibits, individual painters and artists to watch. It loves plein-art painters, that is, painting from life, done outdoors. Like the Impressionists, who were big radicals in their day, plein-art painters are crazy for nature. Through Nov. 29, the Knowlton Gallery in Lodi, Calif., will present "Yosemite on Canvas: 13 Western Artists Paint the Park," a show created by 13 women painters during a weeklong trip to the Yosemite Valley. They painted in snow and 100-degree heat; I wouldn't stand in line for dialysis. But as long as we get to view their output in a climate-controlled studio, I'm in.

Also, the Phoenix Art Museum features the Cowboy Arts of America exhibit till Nov. 16. Only CAA members can unveil their work -- none of which resembles anything in my Greenwich Village neighborhood. Cowboys are tough hombres who rise at dawn. I get up at the crack of 9 and can't start my day without freshly ground hazelnut coffee and 10 minutes of whining. One look at the painting "Nighttime in the Canyon" humbled me. A lone cowpoke on a white horse lights a cigarette (no doubt unfiltered and hand-rolled) as the sun sets. It created a distinct mood, the allure of the lone frontier. For some, this could be a big draw. I'd go crying to the nearest yucca tree begging for the bright lights, big city.

Still, the region's art and its creators are appealing. The story about Ed Trumble, owner of the Leanin' Tree Museum in Bolder, Colo., a veritable hall of fame for post-1950s Western artists, was impressive. I was taken with an Ed Mell landscape, which had a slight Cezanne feel. I was equally moved by C.S. Talley's painting of a dusk sky, on sale at a Fredericksburg, Texas, gallery. The Southwest is big -- and the landscapes that capture its magnificence are beautifully rendered. SA does a sound job of educating readers to its artisans -- and the romance they have with the West.

Yes, my people are desert people. But unless there's good lox and bagels in Taos, I'll take Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten -- but regularly read Southwest Art.


Published by: Cruz Bay Publishing/AIM

Frequency: Monthly

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