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From the Editor: Our place in the West

Written by Carter G. Walker  
December 2015 | January 2016


In The White Album, Joan Didion wrote about place. “A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.” How can our West belong to anyone but the artists who see it, who capture it, who translate and adore it? How can it belong to anyone but those who protect — with their voices, their bodies, their stories and art — the wildness in the land itself and the creatures that inhabit it? How can it belong to anyone but all of us who love its vastness, who celebrate its mystery, who recognize both its promise and its tragedy?

It can’t. The West is ours. Yours and mine.  

This issue, every issue, is about place. Collector and philanthropist Diane Stewart (“Collector’s Eye”) loves art because it reminds her of home. “There’s an old saying that you can never go home again. With art, you can,” she says. And she’s right. 

When she gazes at her works by Taos Society artists, Stewart is pulled back to her native Arizona. Don Coen’s scenes of Western farm life are “so dusty they tickle your nose,” writes Rosemary Carstens in her profile of the gritty artist (“Show and Tell”). Many of the images harken back to the painter’s own childhood on a farm in Lamar, Colorado. Both Stewart and Coen do what they do — collect and paint — out of a deep and abiding love for the land and its people. 

Tom Mangelsen’s childhood in the Nebraska prairie imprinted the photographer with a “yearning for expansive seeing,” writes author Todd Wilkinson (“The Big Wild”). That seeing — whether a grizzly, a hundred-thousand sandhill cranes in flight, or a winter-worn bison — comes through in his works as a vastness that can fit within the confines of the human heart. That seeing can change everything. 

It’s our job to bring this place to you through the artists and architects and designers who inspire us with their own visions of the West. We do that on our pages and now, thanks to the steadfast work of associate editor Christine Rogel, we are doing that on our newly revamped website. Whether you are here, or simply long to be here, by visiting www.westernartandarchitecture.com, you can peruse years of stories and images about this place we all love. Let the stories take you to the place where you belong.


Carter G. Walker, Editor