T. C. Cannon [1946–1978, Caddo/Kiowa] | "Cloud Madonna" | Acrylic on Canvas | 1975 | Collection of Charles and Karen Miller Nearburg, | Promised gift to the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Dartmouth, New Hampshire, © 2017 Estate of T. C. Cannon.

Editor’s Note: Of Power and Time

This issue of Western Art & Architecture calls to mind an essay by poet Mary Oliver. While contemplating the creative life in “Of Power and Time,” Oliver writes that art differs from other careers, because one cannot regulate the “machinery of creativity.” Painting is not surgery. Writing is not driving an ambulance. Sculpture is different from sailing a ship. In other professional pursuits, familiarity is a virtue. While flying to San Francisco, one would hope their pilot doesn’t “drift into some interesting meander of thought” and forget the task at hand. Instead, the “ordinariness” of these tasks — with the parameters of achievement clearly defined — is “the surety of the world.” Competence and consistency in these skills are what “make the world go around.”

But, “the world has a need of dreamers as well as shoe-makers,” writes Oliver. And in addition to choosing a path that requires solitude, commitment, and bravery (for an artist’s “adventures are all unknown”), Oliver writes that creatives also have a unique purpose. “In creative work — creative work of all kinds — those who are the world’s working artists are not trying to help the world go around, but forward.”

This trajectory onward might involve more sharply attuning one’s ear to nature, in order to design a home that better fits with its environment, as is the mission for contemporary architect Grant Kirkpatrick of KAA Design (“Rendering,”) and architect Nate Heller of Studio H Design (“Well Blended.”)

For artist Mark Eberhard, this forward momentum is paired with responsibility. Recognizing that artists create connections between their audience and subjects, Eberhard believes it’s important that an artist create an awareness of the natural world. This is something he does, lending beauty in equal parts to a tree branch, as he does with a bird’s bright plumage (“Composition and Mood.”)

For artist Luke Frazier, moving forward means creating wildlife art that doesn’t simply render an animal, but tells a story (“A Kinship with Wildlife.”) Glass artist Preston Singletary, meanwhile, blends historic Tlingit designs with a contemporary medium to create new traditions (“In the Studio.”) And sculptor Josh Tobey found forward momentum by creating a patina that became a signature of his work (“An Artist’s Fingerprint.”)

“The most regretful people on earth,” Oliver concludes in her essay, “are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

Throughout these pages, we’ve profiled the individuals who enrich our lives by choosing the artistic path. Let’s celebrate those who gave it power and time.

Christine Rogel, Editor in Chief

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