Western Art Galleries Birmingham AL
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Andre was born in Stalingrad in 1972, but was raised in the southernmost region of the former Soviet Union - near the Caspian Sea. The family moved to Moscow in 1984, where the young adolescent enjoyed a sports career focused on shooting, fencing and equestrian activities. However, his self-professed "romantic soul" led him to abandon sports for fine arts.
He was fortunate to be accepted as an apprentice in the private studios of many prominent Russian artists. Following a three-year apprenticeship, Andre enrolled in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Moscow, where he was trained by European masters.
In 1992, Andre emigrated to the United States with his family and settled in Montgomery, Alabama. There, his first introduction to an American audience was a one-man show at the Weil Armistead Gallery. The show's success resulted in him receiving the International Peace scholarship, which enabled him to pursue a fine-arts degree at Auburn University. While at Auburn, Andre was introduced to the history and peoples of the American West.
Following graduation, Andre opened his own gallery, and also taught art at a private school and a local university. However, his desire to learn more about the West led to extensive travels throughout the western states.
In 1999, Andre moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to be inspired by the area's magnificent and mysterious deser...
Charles was exposed to western art at a young age. The old ranch-house walls were decorated with framed Charlie Russell calendar prints. Despite the family's lack of encouragement, Charles developed his own artistic skills - after his chores were done. He took drawing classes in college, but didn't start painting until he was 26 years old.
Encouraged by professional artist Karl Thomas to consider an art career, Charles participated in workshops and studied art in galleries. He also credits Cowboy Artists of America members Jim Norton and Roy Anderson with providing valuable direction on art's technical aspects.
Although Charles was preparing for an organizational consultant career, he devoted his evenings to honing his artistic skills. In the middle of a two-year graduate program, he finally acknowledged that painting was his destiny.
To cement his decision, he moved his family to Cokeville, Wyoming, to be near ranchers and cowboys who represented the authenticity of the West. There, cowboys have a religious bent, forsaking work and leisure on Sunday for things of a spiritual nature.
Charles is concerned about western art's future. He says cowboy-art collectors have some connection with the agrarian west through actual ranch experiences or old cowboy movies. Today's youth don't have the Gene Autry and Roy Rogers films that helped keep the West alive.
"The great redeeming feature of western art is the timelessness of its elements: the figures, landscapes ...
Just out of college in the mid-1990s, western artist Jason Rich had a decision to make. He'd spent a year putting his art-education degree to work, originally figuring a teaching job would fit perfectly into his plan to develop his own artwork.
"I quickly realized that I was either going to be a good teacher who painted once in a while, or a crummy teacher who painted a lot,"Jason admits. "And I couldn't be the latter. I enjoyed teaching, but it just didn't leave me much time to paint."
So Jason and his wife, Kari, made a decision. He gave up his guaranteed paycheck and headed for the Jackson, Wyoming, art galleries in search of someone willing to give an up-and-coming painter a break.
"I had a friend who'd hit the galleries right out of school, and he convinced me to give it a shot,"Jason confesses. "I just figured it was the right time to do it. Either you try it when you're young, or you have to wait until you're 60 and a little more established. Those are the two times most people can afford to take a chance on being an artist. Trying to do it somewhere in the middle, when you've got a family to support, is a tough way to go....