I’m sitting here working on this week’s Western Vault newsletter. The focus this week is western art. As I get deeper into it, I am realizing that there really is no end to what art really is. It can be paintings, sculptures, woodwork, leatherwork, jewelry, clothes (wearable art), and even interior design. Beyond that, the mediums are also endless- canvas, bronze, clay, cloth, leather, wood, your home, gourds, and the list goes on. No matter what medium is used to create whatever piece of art is created, there is one common denominator. That is vision.
Gourd Art by Jodi Finkenbinder
Leather Art by Clair Kehrberg
Bronze Sculpture by H. Clay Dahblerg
Canvas by Steve Devenyns
All of the artists that I work with create their one-of-a-kind pieces with their own hands and are guided by a unique vision- whether it be a specific event, a story from their own lives, something or someone they love, or just something that means so much to them that they want to share it with others.
When I met Andy & Cheryl Sanchez at a show in Grapevine a couple of weeks ago, I was admiring their woodwork. I had seen it in pictures, but pictures do no justice to the beauty in every one of their pieces. The way that they let the wood guide their designs is absolutely amazing to me. The visions that they have for each piece of juniper are guided by the wood itself- the direction of the grain, the imperfections, the unique qualities and personalities. Did you know wood had personality? I didn’t until I saw Andy & Aaron’s work firsthand. WOW.
Redwood Bar Table by Andy & Aaron Sanchez
At the show, Andy caught me looking at one of Aaron’s sculptures called “Business Distractions.” I understood most of the story without any explanation at all, but Andy completed it for me. The story is of two businessmen’s attraction to one woman. They watch in admiration as she glides down the sidewalk. I got that, but Andy told me the rest of the story. The raised piece of wood that I portrayed as the sidewalk is wavy to represent the woman’s perfume trail. A woman walks down the sidewalk, leaving a beautiful trail of perfume that captivates the men as she passes by. Aaron’s unique vision of this particular piece of wood is something I would never be able to see in its raw state. That vision is what separates great artists from the rest of us.
“Business Distractions” by Aaron Sanchez
See the sidewalk and the perfume trail that follows the woman? I love this piece. I’m so thankful for artists that can see beautiful things in what I see as the most ordinary objects. My world would be so dull without them!
Leave a comment!
This year we have been playing in the shop! We really feel that way about most of the work we do but this year we’ve been branching out to do a little more on the sculpting side. I’ve been sculpting for years and have finally put my skills to the test with our latest piece, The Show Down. It is a cowboy and Indian themed chess set made from cotton wood (for the cowboys) and black walnut (for the Indians). Just as the chess set was modified from the its origin in the Middle East to reflect the culture of Europe during the Middle Ages we have re-renovated it, telling the story of the Wild West during the and 17th, 18th and 19th century.
On the cowboys’ side we have a mayor with a tall black hat representing the king and for the queen we designed a piece we like to call “Belle Starr.” Starr was notorious in the Old West for being a woman outlaw; she would definitely be a powerful queen.
Since the Roman Catholic Church had a lot of influence in the old west, especially up and down the Rio Grande, the Bishops, decorated with lapis tones, kept their position next to the two most powerful pieces on the board.
In the place of the knights we have old west gunslingers (appointed by Star of course). For the rooks we have a couple of outpost towers and finally for the pawns we have pawns. Nobody knows what a pawn is anyway, why change it? In the Middle Ages, the pawn represented the common folk and so our pawns represent all the town’s people. Their heads are made from coral.
On the Indian’s side for the King and Queen we have the Sioux Indian Chief, Red Cloud and his wife. Red Cloud was famous for being the only Indian Chief to defeat the U.S. in a war! For bishops, we put the Indian Medicine Men in charge, dressed with lapis lazuli stone. They were often considered wise and powerful men in the Indian tribes.
Next to the Medicine Men are a couple of warriors from the Mohawk tribe. Their mohawks are made from solid copper! For the rooks we put some classic Indian tepees with solid copper smoke coming out of the top.
On the Indian side, the pawns are decorated with turquoise heads with no hats, showing that the Indians had shaved their heads to be ready for battle. They might be a little bit more intimidating than the town folks on the cowboys side.
This set took us about three times longer to do than most of the tables or other pieces that we do around the shop but it turned out to be something that blew us away once we had finished it. It is so gratifying to see something we’ve worked on finally finished and set up to only exceed what we thought it would look like.
Please leave a comment and let us know what you think! Leave us a link to any cool chess sets you have discovered. We would love to see!
Leave a comment!