Nedra Matteucci opens a double exhibit of paintings by Wilson Hurley and his wife, Rosalind Roembke on Friday, November 7 (Nedra Matteucci Galleries, 1075 Paseo de Peralta, 5 - 7 pm). "Many ask what I see in this country that attracts me so. They insist it is an empty land where nothing ever happens. I tell them I find a poem every day." So said the late Wilson Hurley, whose majestic renderings of the Western landscape, and New Mexico, in particular, allow others to see the poetry in that landscape whether they are in the West and inured to the sight or from elsewhere, being tutored in the largeness of the landscape. Wilson, who died earlier this year, will have his pictures exhibited, along with a show by his widow, Rosalind Roembke.
Hurley, born in 1924 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, attended West Point, served in the military, then practiced law in New Mexico. Apparently struck while discussing a will with a dying client, Hurley decided to give up practicing law at the age of 40 to paint full time. Following and yet updating the romantic nineteenth-century landscape artists like Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran and Frederick Church, the artist renders the vistas of the West with a painstaking attention to time of day, seasons, atmospheric and weather conditions.
In the forty years since, Wilson Hurley has done very well. Among the awards presented to Wilson by the National Academy of Western Art are the 1984 Prix de West for his painting, "Los Alamos Country", and the gold medal for oil painting in 1977, 1978, and 1984. The National Cowboy Hall of Fame presented him with the 1977 Trustees' Award for his contribution to western art. The Eiteljorg Museum of American and Western Art presented him with the award for Excellence in Western Art in 1991. He has had one-man shows at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History; The National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas; the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma; the Whitney Museum in Cody, Wyoming; the Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art in Indianapolis, Indiana.
In Sandia Mountains, Hurley renders the panorama of a summer storm over the mountains near Albuquerque. The cumulus clouds in the foreground and dark rain pouring over the hills behind them. Seen from the western side of the river, the picture triggers a host of sensations, not least that sense of enormous pressure relieved and the scent of ozone in the air.
Where Hurley's painting is about the large, Roembke's work is about the small. In Daisies, the artist renders a simple jug full of marguerites whose freshness contrasts with the sturdy Michoacan green glaze pottery. In Iris in Silver, a narrow, vertical painting, the lush sienna-browns and dry iris-wrapping contrast with the highly-polished silver vase; the expansiveness of the flowers a counterpoint to the slender vessel. Roembke brings to mind a host of techniques and eras of still-life painting: the somber browns and dailiness of the Dutch school; the attention to observed texture and light of the Impressionists; and the delicacy of such twentieth-century painters as Marie Laurencin. Roembke, who is shown courtesy of Nedra Matteucci Fine Art, has shown with the Denver Artists of America and Ms. Roembke has exhibited at the Albuquerque Museum's annual Miniature Show for the past nine years.
A flower bouquet of a different sort appears in Fritz Scholder's Floating Orchids (1987). Part of Winterowd Fine Arts' show Conjuring Shamans: From The Scholder Collection, Floating Orchids shows a vase of orchids floating above and in front of a stormy red and purple picturescape. (Friday, November 7, Winterowd Fine Art, 701 Canyon Road, 5-7 pm) Scholder's work is being re-evaluated as a whole this year, with exhibits at IAIA, the National Museum of the American Indian and many gallery shows. His ability to invoke multiple layers of consciousness, dreamscapes and social satire are evident in Conjuring Shamans. In American Portrait # 30, the solitary iconic figure, wrapped from head to toe, looms again out of a coloristic yet carefully inchoate space. The acrylic on canvas Indian Saying No from 1967 reveals the more evidently satirical and political aspects of Scholder's work. A somewhat haunted looking Native American in full Plains war-dress says, simply, No. The cartoon convention of the word-balloon is, of course, a pop art staple but the levity belies the utter seriousness of the existential and political refusal.