New Posts for 2018

Out with the old. In with the new! We’re working on just that, and in the coming year we are looking forward to introducing some new artists and some very new ideas. Come back and visit next year (it’s just around the corner, not that far away).  We will always have our current artists with us, and we hope they will tell us what they are doing now.

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Art News Desk: The Jockey and The Artist

Jockey and Artist Tom Chapman

Change of Careers Brings Fame to Jockey as an Established Artist

For some months now I have wanted to add one of my favorite artists to this site. Tom Chapman was a very talented jockey in that special world of the sport of the kings, the world of the race track where famous  horses are trained to run the fast track. In the midst of his career, he became a painter who began by recording his special world around him. Tom is a self taught painter who understands very well how to depict the drama  associated with the racetrack. Before hanging up his tack he was a very accomplished jockey, riding many favorites to victory at America’s finest racetracks.

Originally from Montana, he moved to California to continue his career as a jockey. He had been an apprentice at Hollywood Park and Santa Anita and soon became a top rider on the circuit. As he became more and more successful, he began to feel the pressure of keeping up with his chosen path. At his wife’s suggestion, Tom took up painting to relieve the mental stress.  As a child, painting was his favorite hobby. Riding as a successful young jockey meant that he did not continue his hobby until much later when it unexpectedly became his major career.

Slew of Damascus Becomes a Turning Point in Jockey’s Life

One day after he rode the famous thoroughbred, Slew of Damascus to victory, he decided to paint his beautiful and victorious horse. No sooner had he completed the work when one of the three owners of the racehorse decided to buy the painting, and the other two owners commissioned him to paint one for them too. It was the beginning of Tom Chapman’s career as a professional artist, and he soon he had more commissions to paint than he could ever have imagined.

"Woodford Reserve"Bright colors and the sense of real movement are the trademarks of his style of painting. The colorful jockey shirts allude to a festive air of an important event, but it is the sense of fast movement and competition between riders that gives his work a feeling of the excitement that accompanies the anticipation of the outcome. Pictured at the right is a work titled, “Close Quarters in the Woodford Reserve.” This was a commission for Brown Foreman, the company that makes Woodford Reserve bourbon and Jack Daniel’s whiskey. Tom did the artwork for the bottle label, and a small edition of the painting was published.

Visit our collection of his paintings and enjoy his work. His collection is only a sampling of the many paintings he has done. There are limited editions in a selection of sizes at very affordable prices.

For more information contact mhfineart@comcast.net

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Remembering the Cowgirls

The Story Behind Cowgirl Towels and Aprons

Recently we asked one of our artists to tell us a little more about her products, the origin of her handcrafted towels and aprons.  Her images are all based on real life cowgirls who rode on the range and in rodeo sports in the early part of the 20th century.  They hung out together and supported each other at a time when participating in rodeo contests was not seen as a women’s sport.  Sharon K. Hunt made their story part of her imagery by transforming their vintage photos into a unique collection of art celebrating these famous women and their athletic abilities.  In their day these cowgirls opened many doors for the future careers of women in sports.

Sharon K. Hunt Talks About the Cowgirls in Her Life

Cowgirls

“We’re In It Together” by Sharon K. Hunt
20th Century Cowgirls

When I was a little girl, we lived on an acreage on the outskirts of Ottumwa, Iowa. My parents made their living raising rabbits for the meat and the beautiful pelts which they sold all over the local area.  Fifty pounds of rabbit food came in colorful cloth sacks with paper labels that washed off and took with it any advertisements.  I loved going to the feed store because I was allowed to climb all over the huge stacks of feed sacks and choose the patterns of sacking that pleased me.  After they were emptied and washed, my mother created my summer sundresses.

During the horse and buggy days, homemakers purchased their flour in 100 pound sacks.  Once the sacks were emptied, washed and bleached, they had a variety of different uses such as: kitchen towels, cleaning  and polishing cloths, diapers and underclothing.  In addition, many were sown together to make sheets and pillowcases in homes that could not afford regular bedding.  Even now, you may still see them being used in nurseries.

Since flour sack towels are super soft and completely lint free, they are able to absorb like a paper towel and dry faster than normals kitchen towels. They add an unsurpassed sparkle to dishes, glasses and windows. They have other culinary uses, too. You can use them for dehydrating, straining cloths for stocks and sauces, poaching, cheese making, pastry, proofing bread and microwave cooking. When they are damp and laid across the top of a freshly made salad, the salad will remain fresh for hours.

Homemakers have enjoyed using flour sack towels for generations. They are still the best bargain for dishtowels and get better with every use. All the nubs, imperfections and shadings are characteristic of this fine towel. They are considered today as gourmet towels amongst chefs and food service professionals.

Sharon K. Hunt

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Art News: Dan Hole & Mr. Marlboro

The Disappearing Song of the West – Mr. Marlboro

In the last stages of America’s love for tobacco when smoking a cigarette was fashionable, artist Daniel Hole painted the Cowboy enjoying his Marlboro for all to see on Hollywood’s famous Sunset Boulevard. Millions and millions of people drove by the huge billboards he created for the Chicago based Leo Burnett Advertising Agency. He became known as the Marlboro artist, and his imagery was iconic, giving his viewers the feeling of the bond between horse and rider in the vast landscapes of the West. Incredibly, he painted more than 300 billboards in the 11 years he worked as a billboard painter, and his images were seen in all the major cities from Atlanta to Chicago, Dallas and LA.

"Marlboro Man"

“Marlboro Man”

At the time I visited Dan in his studio there were still quite a few paintings of his “man” riding in his yellow poncho, and today most of the canvases in this collection have been sold to collectors. During the years he was painting the billboards he always took a lot of photos of his finished boards because the boards were only on view for a certain amount of time. After every four months they were removed, whitewashed and made ready to be used again. As Dan said, “Once the board is removed, the images are gone, gone forever.” With the rise of computerized digital images, Dan lost his career as a billboard artist, although soon after my visit he did paint two more immense boards for Miller’s beer in California, 300 feet wide! He has since painted many canvases of America’s cowboys, most of them celebrating the working cowboy. His style is colorful and reminiscent of his billboard days. They demonstrate his ability to include a great deal of detail with simple carefully designed strokes of paint.

I like to think his work will continue to be appreciated at a time when so much of our lifestyle is changing. Perhaps we are at some kind of significant crossroad right now that requires us to consider whether we should view a work of art as an original and collectible work of art, or as an image to be filed away in a digital memory.

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