Thomas Hart Benton | Noon | Tempera and Oil on Board | 22 x 28 inches | Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Editor’s Note: A Place of its Own

In his book, Under Western Skies, historian Donald Worster writes that “regionalism is about telling differences or it has nothing to tell.” When I read this recently, I thought of WA&A, and how each issue is a collection of creative expressions that point out these differences. The artists and architects profiled inside showcase what makes the West unique — the ways in which it’s a place unto itself.

For example, inside this issue, we see how artist Donna Howell-Sickles trusted her unique vision of the West, even though she was told by college professors that her cowgirl imagery wouldn’t be taken seriously (“Cowgirl Dreams”)

“When I started all of this forever ago, there were not many depictions of women in Western art that were anything like the women I grew up around,” Howell-Sickles says. “There was no artwork that let them be actively engaged in their now. This is to honor them, I suppose; their strength, humor, laughter, and joy needs to be shown.”

Today, her artwork is widely collected by distinguished museums, demonstrating just how important it is for artists to follow their intuition and document the differences they see as characteristic of a place.

Architecture out West also quickly references what’s different about its surroundings. In this issue, we see how the environment in Dallas, Texas, fundamentally changes a home’s design (“Red Oak Residence”). As architect David Stocker of SHM Architects explains: “In music, the space between the notes is the most important thing; they create pauses so that you can reflect. In a home, a series of rests is intended to connect you to the landscape.”

This issue also highlights two artists in the West who created new painting series in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Daniel Sprick’s series, Shelter-in-Place, captures light-filled snapshots of his apartment in Denver, Colorado, expressing and documenting a time when people around the world were staying at home (“Captured Beauty” ). Artist Jim Wodark, meanwhile, turned to the unique, resonating beauty of the Western landscape and challenged himself to use quarantine as a focused time of artistic growth (“A Painting A Day”).

This issue of WA&A, and every issue for that matter, honors the differences that Worster believes gives a place its identity. I hope you enjoy the diverse perspectives found inside and enjoy these stories that celebrate the West.

Christine Rogel, Editor in Chief

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