Art James West | Biography


Art James West "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."

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Whimsical Colorful Visionary



"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, 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.

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    Biography: Images

    Art West taking a stroll in Old Town
    Albuquerque, New Mexico

    "West from Avenue H" oils
    Brooklyn College, 1983

    The New York Clarinet Quartet, circa 1989
    Art James West, a.k.a. Alan Heuer
    on the far right

    "Wishful Thinking" oils
    Brooklyn 1988

    At the O'Keefe Ranch, 1995

    "On the Road to Lili's", oils
    Winner, Taos Invites Taos
    Taos, New Mexico 2006

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