Night of the Artists
A Cultural Culmination of Contemporary Cowboy and Western Art
-Gabriel Diego Delgado
There is a robust and rustic rendition of contemporary Western Art rounding out the rodeo and Fiesta season at the Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio with the Night of the Artists Art Sale & Reception on March 23, 2013. For over a decade the Night of the Artists Art Sale & Reception has had the opportunity to celebrate contemporary Western Art with the who’s who of Western artists. In its twelfth year, this art sale continues on display for a free month-long Night of Artists Public Exhibition which began as a conceptual art idea perfect for San Antonio and staged at the “gateway” to South Texas, says the Briscoe Museum’s Executive Director, Dr. Steven Karr.
photo by Brandi Sutherland Photography
On its website fact page it states, “The Briscoe Western Art Museum (governed by the National Western Art Foundation), is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation established to create a nationally recognized museum open to the public and devoted to the art, history, and culture of the American West, with a contextual emphasis on San Antonio, South Texas, and the Southwest.” “The
was formalized with a substantial financial contribution from the late Governor
Dolph Briscoe, Jr. (April 23, 1923 – June 27, 2010),” says Karr. This
lead monetary gift established the funds to create a physical museum in
downtown Briscoe Museum San Antonio
that would house such a conceptual Western Art endeavor; ultimately located in
the former San Antonio Central Library built in 1930.
The Briscoe is a non-profit corporation established to create a nationally recognized museum open to the public and devoted to the art, history, and culture of the American West, with a contextual emphasis on San Antonio, South Texas, and the Southwest. “The Briscoe Museum was formalized with a contribution from the late Governor Dolph Briscoe, Jr. (April 23, 1923 – June 27, 2010),” says Dr. Karr. This lead gift established the funds to create a physical museum in downtown San Antonio that would house the Western art endeavor; ultimately located in the historically significant former San Antonio Central Library built in 1930.
“The Briscoe Museum has evolved along with the Night of the Artists”, says Karr. Previously staged at various venues and locations throughout the decade-long run, last year’s Night of the Artists (2012) finally saw its home venue christening on the picturesque grounds of the Briscoe’s Jack Guenther Pavilion; part of the one and one-quarter acres of land comprising two buildings and the new expansive McNutt Courtyard and Sculpture Garden located on the historic San Antonio River Walk.
photo by Brandi Sutherland Photography
“There is something unique to this year’s Night of the Artists,” says Dr. Karr. A new approach has reshaped this signature San Antonio exhibition into a fun and festive art sale with a competitive application process for the artists. “Night of Artists has turned into the largest contemporary Western Art show in Texas with 65 artists featured in this year’s exhibition,” said Dr. Karr.
Even through such rigorous processes, two of the spotlighted artists in the Briscoe exhibition are officially represented by a local San Antonio Gallery. Cliff Cavin and Mark Keathley have been a fixture of the San Antonio Art scene for collectively over 30 years; Cliff Cavin at the Boerne J.R. Mooney Gallery and Mark Keathley at J.R. Mooney Galleries of Fine Art-San Antonio.
Although they have two different styles and aesthetics, Cavin and Keathley bring a true Texas flair to the Briscoe’s Night of the Artists. Cliff Cavin is a landscape purist, dedicated to the capturing of light, of atmosphere, of sub-stratospheric heavens bounded by impressionistic traditionalism, while Mark Keathley’s evocative sensibilities are hammered home with lively landscapes and nostalgic pictorial epiphanies of Native American cultural identity.
In Clouds over Nambe, a large 36” x 48” landscape in Night of the Artists, Cavin portrays a cerulean skyline; full of Crepuscular light, enraptured with billows of atmospheric haze; lingering on the dying days of summer sentimentality. The autumn blossoming of the Chamisa, with its golden bloom accents this stellar impressionistic landscape painting of
; back dropped by the
Sangre de Christo Mountains. Nambe,
Photo: courtesy of the artist
As derived from over three decades of careful study, Cliff knows that an object in the distance will shift toward blue because it does not reflect as much light. He revs down his color palette by taking cues from the masters like Leonardo da Vinci who noticed that as a landscape recedes from the viewer its colors and tones alter (aerial perspective or atmospheric perspective). Well played Cliff, well played indeed! A textbook landing of hue-rrific proportions for such majestic geographical icons. Nevertheless, Cavin ventures on and reverses the previously used conventional color theory tuning into another conjecture and depicts clouds growing darker and warmer instead of cooler; dipping in with subtle scarlet blends in the otherwise blanched firmament.
Contrasting Cavin, Keathley’s painterly essence is found in his quasi-hyper realism. Capturing water ripples, muscle contours, textures and various other details, Keathley proves that Contemporary Western Art is making significant contributions to the Art World. Native Sun, a 36” x 48” painting depicting five Native Americans complete with War paint, mounted on horseback is a titled play on words; referencing American Patriotic identities with Native American religious celestial bodies.
Careful attention has been paid to each horse’s coat, unique marking differentiate the equine selections; mimicked in the smeared applications of Native American bodily decorations. However, poised at various attentive gestures, the signatory Western Art animals are looking in different directions- each reflecting on his own territorial owning of the vast open plains. But, there is no outwardly distinction of the contemplative notions of the Indian riders. Silhouetted by the drooping setting sun, each face is hallowed by a illustrious glow, accenting the facial profile, eluding to a religious overtone or coveted nostalgic nobility of these long gone inhabitants.
Bold highlights and accents of blue, orange, yellow and red litter the foreground grasses, while partly sunny and ephemeral heavens juxtapose the detailed subjects. The quadrigeminal composition of true “American” equestrians offsets to the right, placing the second from left rider in the center focal point. Holding the only modern technological weapon, the rifle, this warrior is surveying the immeasurable pride lands of this tribal band. Mark Keathley does poetic justice with Native Sun, with all its sentimental and nostalgic portrayals of romanticized Native American Art.
Photo: courtesy of the artist
Rounding out the one night of festivities for Night of the Artists Art Sale & Reception, Karr closes with a notable summary of events for The Briscoe Museum exhibition. “Even if you’re not an art purchaser, keep in mind it is whole heartedly a free contemporary Western art exhibition and will remain on view for a month at the Jack Guenther Pavilion…becoming a representational precursor to what the public will see in the adjacent galleries of The Briscoe when it opens its doors in the fall.”
The Night of the Artists Public Exhibition will run March 24 through April 28, 2013. The
is located at Briscoe
Museum 210 W. Market St., San Antonio,
Tel. 210.299.4499. For more
information, visit their website at: www.briscoemuseum.org.
© Gabriel Diego Delgado