Each month we focus on an EXPO artist. Exploring their inspiration, creation and new works.
Jerald Weston - Breathing New Life into Old West Artifacts
"I was born and raised in Cody, Wyoming, a place that is about as western as you can get. My grandfather was the county sheriff, while I was growing up, and the jail was on the second floor of my grandparent's county-provided home. As kids we would sneak upstairs to see who was locked up in the jail. I grew up surrounded by real cowboys and cowgirls who had a hardened pride and spirit of independence. We all had horses and rode frequently--sometimes for pleasure and other times out of necessity. My grandfather had a beautiful team of Percheron horses and a wagon collection that he worked on until the day he died. He and I drove the Wyoming Bicentennial Wagon across the state of Wyoming in 1976 as part of the National Bicentennial Celebration. Items that were essential to our western way of life, handed down from generation to generation, have now become artifacts collected by museums and those who love the romance of the old West.
After attending the Art Center College in Pasadena I got a job painting murals for museum exhibits which took me around the world, but as a mural painter you remain in obscurity for the most part. It has always been my goal to be a gallery artist and it has taken me virtually three careers to get to that point. It was approximately a year ago I decided this would be my final career path, so I painted a variety of subject matters in several styles, but it wasn't until I started painting my family's western artifacts that I realized this was what I truly wanted to paint.
I painted every artifact I could find and quickly realized I was going to need a much larger collection to work from than just my own family's collection. Luckily I live and work in Jackson Hole so I became known to the Jackson Hole Historical Museum and began using their collection as inspiration and subject matter for my western still life. This year I was named an artist in residence for the museum--a great honor for me. I try to tell a story with each still life, one that reflects the true western lifestyle and is faithful to the history of the items I am painting. I want my still life paintings to depict that moment when the cowboy returned from a ride and laid his saddle, blanket and gun down on the barn floor while he curried his horse, or that moment a Native American brave removed his breastplate and laid his pipe and treasured tobacco bag down on the buffalo hide inside his cozy tepee after the ceremony. The stories and artifacts are plentiful and each new painting brings with it a history lesson as well as a wonderment about those who actually lived the history behind these artifacts. I paint in a highly realistic style - it takes a lot of time and patience to show the many years of use that these items have had--every mark, every bead, every nick on the butt of a gun tells a story that only the artifacts can know and tell. I feel a responsibility in my work to maintain the integrity, the individuality and the beauty of each object."
You can see Weston at the Jackson Hole Historical Museum Fall Arts Festival, September 10th - 11th where he is Artist In Residence. He will have a studio set up and will be painting a still life from the Museum's collection.
Charles Huckeba - Chroma Texture Series
We checked-in with Charles at his studio in Prescott and ask about the inspiration process behind his acrylic assemblage.
"Over the course of my painting career there has been a significant accumulation and collection of dry pieces of acrylic paint that are generally thrown away with the empty paint container. This paint trash has been transformed into a subjective form of treasure – art. This saved cache of pigment pieces became pounds and pounds over a six year period. Sometimes the simplest most accidental idea can be the best and most creative. On one particular day I needed a break from the Native American rock art subject matter I was painting, so I pulled out the boxes of dried acrylic paint pieces and impulsively decided to do something with them. On a four by four foot canvas, I created a creature that resembled a cross between a porcupine, a javalina, a hedgehog and a Tasmanian devil. To adhere the dry pieces of paint I laid down a thick wet layer of black paint. The extemporaneous selection and application of the dry paint pieces into the wet paint had to be done in a timed manner, otherwise the wet paint would dry too quickly and the dry pieces would not bond properly. This first creature/painting was called “Spikosaurus”.
The new painting idea needed a name in the context of art media. I called it Chroma Textures because the dried pigment colors are varied, thick and chunky. Irregular in size, form and thickness, they have a depth and projection from the surface of the canvas and wet paint. The wet base paint color may vary with the subject rendered. The random predisposition of colors and forms of the dry paint pieces makes for an abstract chaotic approach to painting, as ready made objects that once had an original function, but no relevance to the end product execution they are now part of. The subject may be an animal but the dry paint application is totally abstract. Trash to treasure so to speak.
In the course of my university fine art education I was introduced to the work of Jean DuBuffet (1901-1985). To the general public this artist is relatively unknown, but he is one of the most important artists in art history. His painting series “Texturologies” can be referred to as a “…carnivalesque communion” with his edge to edge alluvial layering. So wrote Peter Schjeldahl, writer, critic and contributing editor to Art in America. Schjeldahl also added that DuBuffet’s texturologies paintings were the “merging of two immediacies: layered, heaped, granulated impasto and child-like drawing. Material and line collide….confrontation with the surface itself.” This also describes my Chroma Textures - the heaped up, disparate pieces of dry paint injected into the viscosity of wet paint, welded and conglomerate in collision. The bristling texture and color seem to fall off and away from the canvas into the face of the viewer."