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Saturday, March 08, 2014

Masters of the West: The Gene Autry

Just got back from this incredible exhibit. If you are in the Los Angeles area, this is a must see. But hurry, because it ends soon~The Gallery opens up with another large offering of Howard Terpning's signature painting; another Indians in the river painting. He had done another one similar to it a few years back but much larger and I think, with much more bravado. I did not take a shot of that because it was not one of my favorites and it did not compare to the one he had displayed a few years back. The top painting is a watercolor~yeah, a watercolor, not a photography shot. Most of the work displayed are of course Western themes; cowboys and Indians, portraits, still lifes, sculptures, etc. I look for anything out of the ordinary, smart ways to tell the story, but this is a more traditional show; where it really shines is the craftsmanship and technique of the artists. That alone, is worth the $10 entrance fee. You can definitely tell who has traditional training skills from those who don't. Only the few have those coveted drawing skills and know their color. The painting of the Bison, which is on the advertisement poster, by Dustin Van Wechel is excellent. Not only does he paint a terrific and powerful and majestic animal, but he really knows his colors. The antelope is also his; colors so clean and vibrant it appears to have that digital painting feel. Another one of my favorites is the close up of the horses at the bottom and I apologize because I did not write down the name of the artist. Then there was the crowd pleaser, which won a few awards; the puma crouching thru the ice. I took a shot of that, overhearing whispers from a few observers saying "That's the best one!" I'm not a fan of the photo-realistic portraits of animals; I'm a bit more of a traditionalist; preferring paint to look like paint, an oil to look like an oil; skill and imagination with a brush...etc. There was even a single Jeremy Lipking (did I say a Jeremy Lipking? Thee portrait artist? Yes, that's right). Then there was Z.S Liang and Mian Situ; who, even tho they are Asian, depict the west as if they were from that era. Situ always takes my breath away because he paints these large scenes with lots of figures in a sort of nostalgic way but the man certainly knows his colors and his brushwork and can stage the story. His subjects usually are about the historic relationship of the Chinese and how they were used for labor, to the people of the West. If you are a concept story teller or an illustrator who wants to know how to improve; this is a must see exhibit. It ends this month, March 16. The Autry National Center is closed Mondays and it is right across the street from the L.A. Zoo. Parking is free. KMZ

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