Monrovia, CA – Pride of place in the rich and varied Fine Art selection for this auction is a magnificent large painting by John Sloan, entitled Cowboys Rustling Cattle Herd in Rain. Inspired by summer trips to Santa Fe during 1916-1917, John Sloan returned fully invigorated to paint the southwest during the summer of 1919. Leaving Gloucester, Massachusetts, with the responsibilities of formal teaching behind him, Sloan was no doubt filled with the excitement and sense of adventure Old Santa Fe offered. Indeed, Sloan’s biographer Rowland Elzea recalls “The majority of his paintings of the summer of 1919 show his response to the life of the people there: Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo.” This oil on canvas projects the experience Sloane and many of his fellow colleagues were looking for in New Mexico: Cowboys and charros whooping on horseback with dogs, all herding hundreds of stampeding cattle in a driving rainstorm. The cast of unknown characters depicted in this painting all come together in this one frenzied instant – to create a perfect western back drop for the urbanist painter from Philadelphia.
A different western activity is featured in this high mountain scene by renowned artist Eanger Irving Couse, The Turkey Hunter, with a pre-auction estimate of $60,000 – $80,000. Couse was one of the founders of the Taos Society of Artists and its first president. Born in Michigan in 1866, he came to Taos after extensive formal and practical study of art via Chicago, New York, and ultimately Paris in 1886. After living in France, the eastern US, and then Oregon, Couse visited Taos for the first time in 1902. Spending summers there painting between 1904 and 1927, he eventually settled in Taos permanently. He was enamored with the Pueblo people and their way of life, and although some of his depictions can seem romanticized, he was close friends with some of his subjects, having favorite models for his compositions. Couse was known for dramatically using light to highlight shapes and patterns, as illustrated in this painting. In a mountain forest of aspen trees in Autumn, where the yellow shimmer of leaves contrasts with the cool green of the shadows, a patient Native American hunter hides deep in the shadows, watching the wild turkeys gather to drink at a mountain stream, waiting for his moment.
Another determined hunter is featured in this delicately rendered watercolor by Olaf Carl Seltzer, Grizzly Tracks. A mounted Native American hunter is studying tracks of a grizzly, with spear, bow, and quiver at the ready. In a simple color palette of browns, the fine details of the figure and his dress are emphasized with bolder colors of red, green, grey, and white. Standing on the short grass and dirt of the prairie, his horse is ready to move off with hind leg poised and tail swishing with impatience.
Born in Denmark in 1877, Olaf Carl Seltzer studied art from the early age of 12 and later emigrated to Montana with his mother at 19 in 1897. He was always interested in the American West. While working as a cowboy, then as machinist and train mechanic for the Great Northern Railway, he filled his spare time sketching the landscape and the local wildlife. After a meeting in Montana, he became close friends with Charles M. Russell, who gave him valuable advice and influenced his work. In 1928 he produced a series of watercolors that became known as “The Western Characters.” This fine example of a western character is offered with a pre-auction estimate of $3,000-$5,000.
From small to large, this oil painting by Ray Swanson is the perfect size to capture the grandeur of the vast Southwest desert landscape. In the foreground, a Navajo family travels by horseback and wagon through sagebrush, the wagon cover open to catch the cooling desert wind, thunderclouds casting shadows across their path on the high plains. The figures are small yet sharp and highly detailed and give contrast to the big sky and far-reaching views of buttes and mesas in the distance. Ray Swanson (1937-2004) is known for highly detailed photo-realistic scenes of Navajo and Pueblo peoples, whom he had come to respect and be concerned about, as he witnessed their traditional ways of life disappearing. Raised in a rural environment, he came to love the desert of Arizona. As a result, he felt compelled to accurately depict traditional lifestyles, including methods of transport and native dress that he felt were quickly fading away. The respect seemed mutual, as it was reported that at his funeral, a Navajo family that he painted attended his memorial service and placed a traditional chief’s blanket on his casket.
Traditional dress is also celebrated in this sizeable figurative oil painting, Native American Women Standing with Umbrellas, by Anthony Chee Emerson. A vibrant sky-blue background sets off the colorful profiles of five proud women. Angular lines of faces, blouses, and umbrellas combine to provide rhythmic movement across the canvas, emphasizing seams and gathers of traditional clothing. Larger blocks of color give contrast to delicately detailed belts with long, wispy fringe ends, echoing the wispy strands of hair and the skirts disappearing into the tall grass of the foreground. The work is typical of Emerson (b. 1963), a contemporary painter of Navajo ancestry known for his stylized figurative paintings of people, animals, and landscapes. A move at a young age from Los Angeles to New Mexico resulted in a growing interest in his own culture and a love of art he studied at college, eventually opening his gallery with his wife in Farmington, NM. It is wonderful to see his stated influences of Chagall and Picasso in this modern portrait of Native American women.
“Eanger Irving Couse was known for dramatically using light to highlight shapes and patterns, as illustrated in this painting. ”
As well as paintings, a multitude of bronzes are presented to auction, with notable examples such as Fritz William Scholder’s Portrait of a Shaman from 1984, and works by Sid Burns and Stanley Quentin Johnson, to name a few. In Mysteries of Migration, contemporary artist George Carlson depicts a seated figure of a Native American man, turning to one side with raised arms and crossed hands. He is wearing a bear claw necklace with a central medallion and has a thick robe/fur around his waist, held with a wide fringed belt with medallions at the front closure. His bow, quiver, and arrows lay at his side. The sculpted figure seems elemental and strong, and the textured modeling gives a strong sense of movement and immediacy, revealing “the life force within.” Respected as an accomplished sculptor of bronze figures and as a painter, Carlson began sculpting, he says, as a way to improve his drawing and observational skills. From an early age, he studied art formally at several institutions and dabbled in commercial art. Time spent in Taos later gave him the space to clear his past experiences and develop a new approach, becoming “determined that my art would show the Indian’s harmony with nature, not his savagery.” (George Carlson). In common with other artists featured here, Carlson is part of a tradition of artists documenting conflicts and changes to the land and traditions of the indigenous peoples of the West driven by migrants from the East.
In addition to our fine art offerings, Moran’s also brings a strong selection of Native American and western jewelry, textiles, baskets and pottery.
With over 150 lots of jewelry, a wide range of styles can be found, with many beautiful examples of traditional and classic silver and turquoise pieces, including an impressive selection of Navajo ketoh arm guards. In addition to a number of striking John Winston bolos, contemporary jewelry designs are also featured, with works by Wes Willie, Cleve Honyaktewa and Alvin and Lula Begay.
The strong offerings continue with an abundance of iconic Native American textiles including an early 20th Century Navajo Germantown double saddle blanket and weavings by Grace Henderson Nez and Lily Touchin, among others. Baskets are well-represented in all sizes, including a Havasupai pictorial basket, a Western Mono basket, a fine Hupa/Kurok Basketry hat, and Chemehuevi baskets, which while small in size, are finely woven and striking in design. In contrast, a monumental Debbie Garcia Brown Acoma pottery olla tops the charts as one of the largest of the 32 examples of fine pottery including a Hopi Sikyátki Revival olla, a Priscilla Namingha Nampeyo Hopi-Tewa jar, and a large Robert Tenorio Kewa vessel with Zia-style birds and flowers. Vibrant designs can also be found on a colorful selection of painted furniture by Will Evans, from Shiprock, New Mexico. Rounding out our enticing selection is a collection of Northwest Coast pieces including carved and painted wooden masks, and a carved argillite model totem, possibly by Charles Edenshaw.
Immediately following, Moran’s fall Art of the American West online-only session on November 30th, 2021 at 2 pm, will feature 181 lots of fine art, textiles, pottery, basketry, jewelry, and more. On offer are paintings by Allen Bahe, Gordon Pond, Bill Dixon Jr., and Joni Falk as well as bronzes by Donald Polland and Bud Boller. Also to be found are over 80 lots of Zuni, Hopi, and Navajo silver and turquoise jewelry by artists such as Danice Benally, Howard Nelson, and Terry Martinez. Finally, the sale will present a variety of textiles from leading contemporary artists by weavers including Stella Dubsie, Pat Yellowhorse, and Rita Totsoni.
Rounding out the year and beyond, Moran’s will offer two auctions in December include Traditional Collector on December 7th, with a variety of Continental furniture, textiles, paintings, bronze and marble sculptures, and silver. Fine Jewelry and Timepieces follows on December 14th, with a wide selection of special jewelry featuring beautiful gemstones and classic wearable styles giving dazzling choices for the festive season. Finally, our ever-popular Made in Mexico will kick off the new year in great style on February 1st 2022. If you would like to preview any item in person, call our office today to schedule your appointment.
Traditional Collector: Tuesday, December 7th | 12:00 pm PST
Fine Jewelry and Timepieces: Tuesday, December 14th | 12:00 pm PST
Made in Mexico: Tuesday, February 1st | 12:00 pm PST
For upcoming highlights, online catalogs, and more information on these sales, visit Moran’s website: www.johnmoran.com. Bidding is now available online via Moran’s new mobile app, Moran Mobile, available on both iOS and Android operating systems. Live bidding on a desktop is available through our website; bidding is also supported by telephone or absentee.
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