06 Sep Editor’s Note: The Curated West
Art can take us to unfamiliar settings, remind us of our favorite places, heighten our imaginations, or challenge our worldviews. It’s a gift to have such an array of expressions to depict and describe the human condition — all within reach to learn from, wonder at, and experience.
Each issue of WA&A attempts to curate a perspective of the West, celebrating the artists, architects, and designers working in the region.
In this issue, for example, consider the works of Thomas Blackshear, Ezra Tucker, and Dean Mitchell in “Men of Distinction,” pg. 126. Each an esteemed artist in his own right, their careers grew alongside their friendships, spanning nearly 50 years. In addition to their tremendous artistic talents, they also share their experiences of what it was like to be Black men working as greeting card illustrators at Hallmark. By listening to their stories, we can gain important perspectives on the Black experience in American art.
In the feature “Here, Now and Always,” pg. 138, we read that Santa Fe’s Museum of Indian Arts and Culture re-installed a significant exhibit featuring 600 objects from the permanent collection. The re-envisioned exhibition was curated with guidance from 60 Native American advisers from different tribal Nations, ensuring that Native voices drive the narrative of their cultural histories. This serves as a valuable example for other institutions; and through the selection of works shown in the new exhibition, we see how concepts of “Native art” are in constant evolution.
Also in this issue, we read in “Inner Light,” pg. 114, how artist R. Tom Gilleon drew from his early career at Disney Imagineering to enhance his fine art legacy. In addition to the oil paintings we know and love, Gilleon is creating digital paintings that subtly change as though the landscapes he captured were living entities inside their frames. Alongside sheer beauty, Gilleon shows us how technology can enhance artistic expression in the modern age.
When it comes to architecture, we see how a photographer curates his home to celebrate creativity and the Marfa, Texas, desert. Romantically situated at the end of the road, each room seems an artistic vignette: comfortable, conscientious, and personal. His home honors its setting and reflects the photographer’s bold spirit, as related in “Desert Romance,” pg. 120.
Another home found in Lake Tahoe was inspired by geometry and drawings of A-frame boathouses by Frank Lloyd Wright. We see these inspirations repeatedly throughout the house, in the architectural design and interior details, creating a continuous theme, “Peak Geometry,” pg. 132.
Art asks us to quiet our minds and become observers of our world. As artist Gordon McConnell says in “Illuminations,” pg. 55, “There are many Wests, and each person who lives here or visits has a different relationship to it.” I hope this issue compels you to reflect on your relationship to the West and perhaps curate your own vision.
Christine Rogel, Editor in Chief