"As a painter, my adventures with oil paint began as a kid in Wyoming where I grew up. I've been painting in oils for over 40 years. I recollect sitting in the sage brush on location in the Grand Tetons with a set of acrylics, probably at the age of eight or nine. In the hot Wyoming sun they dried faster then I could mix them. I gave it up and turned to oil paint which I have used ever since. Eventually I found my way to northern New Mexico where I have painted in earnest since 2000 -- colorful southwest landscapes of Taos, Santa Fe, the West and beyond, in oils, of course.
"Before taking up painting full time I had other candles to burn, wanting to pursue my passion for music and to experience the big city. In 1980, after earning my Bachelor's in Music at the University of Wyoming, I went to New York City. I wanted to play Carnegie. In 1983, I received my Masters in clarinet. For my Master's recital I hung a painting I had done of Brooklyn College in the Rocky Mountains titled "West from Avenue H", my first utopic displacement landscape. The president of the college attended my recital, saw the painting and bought it for his office. It hangs there to this day. And I did play Carnegie, several times with various New York groups. But, my favorite New York venue was always Grand Central Station on a Saturday Night with the New York Clarinet Quartet, a group I co-founded in the late 80s; afterwards we went for oysters at the famous Oyster Bar.
"In 1988 I married Kay Hazelip, an instructor of life drawing and anatomy at the Art Student's League. I spent the next five years attending gallery openings and soaking in the rich art culture of New York City through her eyes as an artist par 'excellence. I painted under her tutelage. She used to show my paintings to her artist colleagues and say I was self taught. Shortly before her untimely passing she referred to my paintings as her husbands, that is all. Under her tutelage I painted "Wishful Thinking", a painting of our Brooklyn kitchen with my favorite Teton mountain instead of a brick wall. For me, painting a still life proved fairly easy. Painting a tree, now that's tough.
"Suddenly, in 1993 my wife died of cancer. I found myself unemployed with two small children in Brooklyn. Very little time to practice and maintain a rehearsal and concert schedule. I brought a nanny over from England and frantically struggled to survive. As a catharsis from the loss of my wife I wrote a book "Search for Harmony", a loosely based bio of my adventures as a cowboy clarinetist in New Hork City by Alan Heuer. Available on Amazon.
"Then in 1995 I received a phone call from the wife of a friend who had opened an academy for realist painters in Seattle. She knew I was from Wyoming and asked if I had access to a truck as they were planning a workshop in Taos and the O'Keefe ranch in New Mexico and needed someone to help the students ferry their supplies. I responded my brother had a truck that I'm sure I could borrow. I asked if I could bring my paints. "You paint?" she asked. "I do".
'Thus did I find myself in New Mexico for the first time, having been to the other 47 contiguous states. I found the landscape enchanting. One day while putting my easel in the truck, my friend asked if that was the instructor's painting. "No, that's mine," I replied. And the stage was set. I had never heard of Blumenschien or Mabel Dodge or the Taos Six, nor truly did I have any inkling of the rich art history that is Taos. I did know I wanted to come back west and paint, and the Taos landscape spoke to me.
"Now, it was just a matter of getting from Brooklyn to Taos. I went the roundabout way by way of San Jose in Silicon Valley where I took on a career as a Lotus Notes Developer. Oddly, there is precidence that musicians are good with code. I proved no exception. My website, a relational database, artweststudio.com is built entirely using Lotus Notes, now IBM Notes. I maintain it to this day. But, California and corporate did not suit my BADass style. I wanted to paint Taos. Apparently so did a lot of other artists, though I didn't know it at the time. Boy was I in for a happy surprise. Artists everywhere.
"So, I uprooted my family once again and move to Taos where I began to paint in earnest, striving to develop my own style. Soon thereafter, I became a Taos Icon and Taos Post modernist.
"As a first-time participant in the 2006 Taos Fall Arts Festival "Taos Invites Taos", I won "Best Representational Painting. While in Taos I developed a unique colorful style reminiscent of the Taos School and Taos Society of Artists. I enjoyed being in the thick of things, interacting with the other artists and the folks who make it to this rural city at the foot of the Rockies, to discuss the art and the rich cultural history of Taos.
"On the family side of things after many nears of struggle from the loss of my wife, my son was finally diagnosed with high functioning autsim in 2010, the same year he and my daughter both graduated from Taos High, my son with a standard diploma in spite of his disability. I had worked with the schools through thick and thick to see he got the education he needed. Then many great folk from Taos and Albquerque gathered and tried to decide what next. He could need help the rest of his life or go on to get a doctorate. For either would require moving from Taos.
"So, for a year my son attended UNM Taos. Then out of the blue I met a woman in Santa Fe, a musician. Okay so how was that going to work? So we split the difference and moved to Espanola for three years where my son attended Northern New Mexico College, then we got married and moved to Santa Fe where I opened up a studio and took on the name Arthur James West, "Art West" for short. I had coined myself as Art West & Beyond for many years. Why not become Art West? Some names are given and some earned. I earned it. No I don't paint horses and cowboys as a general rule. That's the old west. I paint the west of the new millenium with a distinct focus on the color and culture of New Mexico.
'Finally, in 2015 we moved to the Albuquerque, that my son might finally be closer to the education, jobs and services he needs. Slowly things are coming into place. And through it all I have continued to paint, now PainTing BADass Color in the ABQ.
"Then in 2015, I was invited to return to Taos as an artist member of David Anthony Fine Art on Kit Carson Road, just a half mile from where I had lived and painted for over a decade Of course folks in Taos know me as Alan Heuer where I had gained some artistic notoriety. They'll get used to Art West. And I have been invited to paint at the Taos Art Market on Saturdays. What joy!
To sum up, there was a gentleman I met during my search for a home in Taos way back in 1999. He saved a house for us on a handshake. A true spanish gentleman. His father was the mayor of Taos at some point. Recently I saw him again in the grocery store in Taos. He exclaimed he had not seen me in awhile and asked how I was doing. I brought him up to date and explained I now travel the entire corridor from ABQ to Taos on a regular basis and how wonderful it is to be in the changing landscape I love to paint. He called me a Don Quixiote and welcomed me to New Mexcio!
Art James West - Landscapes of the West & Beyond now PainTing BADass Color in the ABQ, Santa Fe and Taos!
For more information and view my portfolio visit: www.artweststudio.com