10 May Editors Note: Western Panorama
Western art has evolved into a vibrant genre that embraces both contemporary and traditional styles and subjects. In each issue, WA&A is honored to showcase this mix of historic greats and living visionaries.
The range of topics and expressions covered under the umbrella of Western art is vast, though a few themes shine through. One common motif is the landscape. Photographer Ian van Coller, for example, is fascinated by the sense of “deep time” inherent in the subject. He photographs 5,000-year-old bristlecone pine trees and, most recently, has photographed the glaciers in Glacier National Park over four years with fellow artists Todd Anderson and Bruce Crownover. Their work serves as a historical document of climate change and has resulted in collaborations with paleoclimatologists.
Just as Western art focuses on nature, it also reflects the history and culture of the people who make the region home. Native Americans have been creating art here for thousands of years. The traveling exhibition Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery showcases both early and more contemporary ceramic expressions in a 100-piece show curated by the Pueblo Pottery Collective, a group of 60 artists, activists, museum professionals, and others from 21 pottery-making tribal communities in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. On exhibit at Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Museum of Indian Arts & Culture through May 29, it travels this summer to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Vilcek Foundation in New York City, and then to art museums in Houston and Missouri through 2025.
Western art also calls our attention to beauty, a profound part of the human experience. The work of Dianne Massey Dunbar plays tricks on our imaginations, transforming tiny abstract moments into photorealistic paintings that find beauty in everyday objects and scenes — even tiny water droplets on a windshield. As WA&A Senior Contributing Editor Norman Kolpas points out, “Zoom in on the water in Rain on Windshield – Rosie’s Diner II, for example, and witness something akin to a Mark Rothko canvas in miniature.”
Western architecture, too, responds to the region’s vast and varied natural wonders with its own human-made forms of beauty. In this issue, a project in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, focuses on craftsmanship and the architectural principles of regionalism, and a California Wine Country home focuses on nearby vineyard and distant water views for a calming retreat inspired by Zen.
We hope this issue brings you a satisfying showcase of the massive talent, creativity, and artistry the West inspires.
Christine Rogel, Editor in Chief