Two well-known regional artists, Allie Kurtz Vogt and Michael Horswill, will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at The Art Spirit Gallery during the month of October.
Both artists have worked extensively in the region as artists, educators, and community members. They have entitled their show “Confluence” to honor their many years of free-flowing conversations about art now coming together in this exhibition. Whether in their art studios less than a mile away in Hayden Lake or at North Idaho College where they have taught for a combined 53 years—their enduring friendship has inspired this series of over sixty large and small paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
Appearing on the surface to be abstract, when looking more closely at their artwork, viewers will recognize the artists’ attentive engagement with the materials and experiences of life. Their creative processes are similar, as they draw, paint, and arrange fragments of memories or daily observations in numerous layers. From Vogt’s luminous, lyrical, oil and pencil paintings of dancing figures to Horswill’s dramatic charcoal drawings of trees, machines, and other-worldly landscapes, paying close attention to their work reveals recognizable imagery along with delightful surprises.
Vogt says her work is “a fusion of imagination, memory, observation, and glimpses of reality.” Using real materials as references, she paints and draws in numerous, radiant layers of color onto special papers and canvas, using media that includes oil paint, pastels, pencils, pigmented wax, and charcoal.
At the center of Vogt’s drawings and paintings, she says, is “the essence of her childhood,” which has created for her an “inventory” of ghostly memories and sensory details that inspire her imagination. Growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, in a large Catholic family of six children, she remembers exploring the rooms of her parents’ house, being entranced by ornate holiday tables, attending St. Augustine Church, and dressing in uniforms for parochial school with its strict expectations. These structured experiences were balanced by the openness of nature and the freedom of making art at the Des Moines Art Center. Vogt transforms these memories into images of chalices and flutes, symbolic altars and memorials, around-the-table narratives, imagined landscapes and invented vignettes.
Horswill, too, integrates a range of materials within paintings, drawings, and sculptures composed of wood, glass, steel, paper, charcoal, and paints that include acrylics, oils, and beeswax encaustic.
Life experiences have also motivated Horswill’s artwork. Growing up in Montana with his parents and two siblings, the family was always active in the outdoors, where he developed a deep appreciation for using natural materials and colors. The family’s interest in regional history inspired his own continuous search for archival materials, antique machines, mysterious instruments, and glimpses of stories that provide aesthetic details in two and three-dimensional constructions. Whether exploring ghost towns, riding horses, skiing, drawing cartoons, or writing stories, his parents encouraged his observation, conversation, and imagination. Inspired by these experiences, Horswill layers ghostly imagery behind aged glass windows or beneath layers of translucent beeswax to create mixed media, wall-hung sculptures.
North Idaho College students, past and present, know these artists well as core, full-time art faculty: Vogt for 35 years before retiring in 2014 and Horswill for 18 years. Horswill is now directing the Boswell Corner Gallery that Vogt originated, bringing a range of accomplished artists to inspire students and the community. Both say teaching art has influenced their own artwork. Guiding students to learn creative processes for different types of classes, from beginning drawing to more advanced painting or sculpture, is challenging and motivating. The attention required to respond meaningfully to students’ creative efforts at all levels requires both knowledge and sensitivity, which they have developed through years of experience.
Both artists achieved Master of Fine Arts degrees, Vogt from Colorado State University and Horswill from University of Idaho, and both have been active in local arts organizations.
Vogt has shown her paintings frequently in solo and group shows around the region, such as for Spokane’s 2015 Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture’s group exhibition The Artist’s Palette, a major retrospective of her work at Gonzaga University’s Jundt Art Museum in 2013 entitled Layers, and a solo exhibition of Selected Works in 2008 at the Jacklyn Arts and Cultural Center in Post Falls. She has contributed her expertise in the arts and curriculum to numerous committees, and has contributed her expertise to guiding K-12 teachers and curriculum.
Horswill’s earlier art career involved illustration for publications such as the Northwest Inlander, and he has shown his work at universities such as WSU, Gonzaga, and Whitworth, while more recently receiving public art commissions, including the 2015 “Epiphany” installed next to the Hayden Public Library. He received the Hayden Chamber of Commerce Award for the Arts in 2016 and Coeur d’Alene’s Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2011 and has been active in area arts organizations.
Together, these artists’ dynamic new work will stream together in a “Confluence” at The Art Spirit Gallery in downtown Coeur d’Alene from October 14 to November 5, 2016. The exhibition will inspire viewers to look closely, appreciate the numerous layers of materials, and discover the colors and shapes of art and life that arise in these vibrant new paintings, drawings, and sculptures.