Southwest Sculpture: Art in the Third Dimension

An appealing, intriguing, powerful world of sculpture by Gussie Fauntleroy

Excerpt published courtesy Focus / Santa Fe, June/July 2005

There's nothing like a curving form for inviting the curious eye to follow its bend around to the other side. There's nothing like the exquisitely sensuous surface of polished stone, satiny smooth wood, or cool bronze to beckon the touch. In short, there's nothing like sculpture to create an undeniable presence in a room. It's a presence that encapsulates poetry, memory, whimsy, history, adventure, or romance, each with its own subtle qualities fleshed out in three dimensions by the artist's masterful hands.

For many, sculpture in the southwest suggests eloquent homage to the native culture, present and past.

Oreland Joe, Winds of the Night Chant, Tennessee marble, 52 x 12 x 25 

Oreland Joe, Winds of the Night Chant, Tennessee marble, 52 x 12 x 25

These qualities also are present in the acclaimed sculpture of Oreland Joe, of Navajo and Ute descent. In 1993 Joe became the first Native American inducted into the Cowboy Artists of America. Later he added to that honor by becoming the first native artist to receive Best of Show from that group, and he has won numerous other awards.

In both stone and limited edition bronze, Joe portrays historical figures and Native American themes with scrupulous attention to anatomy, balance, and classical beauty in the manner of the Renaissance carvers from whom he draws inspiration.

Shirley Thomson-Smith, The Long Wait, Bronze, 56 x 15 x 21

Shirley Thomson-Smith, The Long Wait, Bronze, 56 x 15 x 21

Oklahoma-based sculptor Shirley Thomson-Smith finds fascination in the human figure - particularly the female, which the artist presents as dignified, thoughtful, serene, and strong. Intrigued since childhood with the possibilities of clay, Smith parlayed her interest into an art career that has included the honor of becoming the third female inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame's National Academy of Western Art. Her signature bronze figures, known for their sturdy, over-sized hands and feet, most often are women of Native American, African American, or Asian descent.