Creativity takes courage. It is a process and a practice. It requires vision. Vision that is unwavering and resolute while simultaneously transformative and revolutionary. Art has
the ability to bend our reality, to suspend it, or to intensify it on some level. As Degas so famously stated, “Art is not what you see but what you make others see.”
Here in the Wood River Valley, where a rich tradition of arts and culture has been cultivated for nearly half a century, we have been blessed with an incredible array of nationally and internationally acclaimed artists—both working in our Valley and exhibiting here through one of the many exceptional galleries that grace our streets. In celebration of our 40th Anniversary “Arts Issue,” we stepped into the minds and working studios of a few national artists to find out what drives them to make art, where they find inspiration and how the inner workings of a successful artist’s mind moves.
No topic was off limits. We even asked about the most difficult job they had as a “starving artist.” And some of the answers may surprise you. Painter Logan Maxwell Hagege, whose figure and landscape painting has gained wide appeal, worked drawing caricatures of people at a theme park in his native Southern California and credits that experience with helping him learn how to draw in front of people. Renowned Los Angeles sculptor Hacer-he says he has had to juggle his art with many jobs: “It’s hard to say which was worse: being a door-to-door window salesman, loading and unloading freight at the docks, working the night shift at a truck yard as a security guard or my days as a lunch lady [hair net and all] at an elementary school. Then again, when I think about it, selling cable back to the people who were stealing it in Compton [after the company I worked for cut it] is hard to beat.”
Meanwhile, landscape painter Neal Philpott seemed to have the ideal job working as a design director for an exhibit and museum design firm, but states that it simply crowded out his true passion. “My creative energy was being tapped so much that I had nothing left at the day’s end to put towards painting,” he says. “I remedied this by getting up at 3 a.m. and working until 6 a.m., leaving me a little sleepy at work but able to get by.”
— Francis Bacon
Victoria Adams | Painting
The views Victoria Adams paints—made up of clouds, horizons, water, and the atmospheres of light—are conjured from her imagination. Her inspirations range from fragments of actual photographed scenes, to memories and daydreams, all filtered through the influence of the historical European landscape tradition, as expressed by early Dutch, then English and French, and eventually American Luminist and Hudson River School painters. She views her work in effect as an “elegy for nature— elegy both as a lament for a tragic loss, but also as a reaffirmation of the importance of viewing landscape as an essential human need.”
Julian Voss-Andreae | Sculpture
Julian Voss-Andreae is a German-born sculptor based in Portland (Oregon). Starting out as a painter, he later changed course and studied physics at the universities of Berlin, Edinburgh and Vienna, pursuing his graduate research in quantum physics. Years later he moved to the U.S. with his passion for art rekindled and graduated from Art College in 2004.
Voss-Andreae’s sculpture, which is heavily influenced by his background in science, has quickly gained critical attention, including recent commissions for a large-scale outdoor piece for the Scripps Research Institute in Florida and a sculpture for Nobel laureate Roderick MacKinnon at Rockefeller University in New York City.
Hacer-he | Sculpture
One of the most exciting, emerging figures in the Los Angeles art scene, Hacer-he is renowned for his bold, origami-inspired metal sculptures in bright colors and form. Hacer-he’s introduction to the nostalgic art form of origami began at age seven when a volunteer in one of his foster homes read, “Sadako And The Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr. It grew from there through exposure to Alexander Calder’s bold, playful sculpture and [after recruitment by art fabricator, Peter Carlson] first-hand working knowledge of Jeff Koons’ steadfast attention to detail and Ellsworth Kelly’s exhaustive commitment to minimalism.
Logan Maxwell Hagege | Painting
Logan Maxwell Hagege is a talented artist who excels in depicting the figure and landscapes. Serious study in art started for Logan when early interest in animation sent him to a local art school, Associates in Art. His interest quickly moved from animation to fine art while attending life drawing classes, and later a program modeled after the old time French Art Schools where students spent more than six hours per day studying from live models. Logan draws inspiration for his subjects from his native Southern California as well as by traveling extensively to view various landscapes in the American Southwest and the Northeast Coast of the U.S.
Neal Philpott | Painting
Neal Philpott catches the passing moments of nature and translates them onto canvas. He looks for overlapping patterns, sensing the details that inform the mood and light of a particular scene, and his landscapes are an attempt to capture the transitory character of the natural world. “My hope for viewers is that they feel invited into the painting,” Philpott says, adding, “I like to think of my paintings as gateways into a different way of seeing our world. Our busy lives demand so much of our attention that moments of reflection are precious, but all too often overlooked. Capturing a momentary scene in paint saves that moment for subsequent reflection.”
Julie Speidel | Sculptor
Julie Speidel, a Seattle sculptor, often works at the intersection between iconic cultural forms of antiquity and a contemporary lens of abstract shape and form. Her inspiration is rooted in her fascination with ancient megaliths and encouraged by her many travels to sacred sites in Ireland, England, Turkey and China. Working with bronze, stone, basalt, wood and cast glass, Julie Speidel’s sculptures evoke a sense of timelessness. Seen in a landscape, Speidel’s sculptures have a Zen-like relationship with the surrounding area. When installed indoors, they act as oases of nature, exuding an enigmatic, earthly quality despite their man-made origins.
— Pablo Picasso
1. SVMag: What is a quote that inspires you and why?
Maxwell Hagege – Jerry Seinfeld’s quote says it all for me: “Your blessing in life is finding the torture you’re comfortable with.” There are ups and downs in the process of creating a painting.
Voss-Andreae – One of my all-time favorite quotes is by Albert Einstein: “Where the world ceases to be the stage for personal hopes and desires, where we, as free beings, behold it in wonder, to question and to contemplate, there we enter the realm of art and science. If we trace out what we behold and experience through the language of logic, we are doing science; if we show it in forms whose interrelationships are not accessible to our conscious thought but are intuitively recognized as meaningful, we are doing art. Common to both is the devotion to something beyond the personal, removed from the arbitrary.” In this quote Einstein goes to the very core of what makes us wonder, of what makes us human. He is talking about the emotion that drives me to do my work.
Speidel – “Our five senses are like openings through which we receive all the perceptions that are then transferred into concepts and ideas. “ This quote by Arnaud Desjardins inspires me and I try to pay attention to this quote at different times in my day as it is permission giving.
Adams – Ansel Adams is quoted as having said the following: “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.” Even though I am engaged in the making of paintings rather than photography, Ansel Adams’ way of approaching art-making appeals to me. Each day, in the studio, my ability to connect, synthesize ideas, and imagine during the act of painting draws on the deep resource of all that I have witnessed and experienced in my life. Images from literature may find visual form in the paintings I do. The memory of skies I’ve seen, or music I’ve heard, are all unconscious ingredients in the decisions I make during the painting process. And as I grow older, I expect my art to mature and grow increasingly complex as I have a larger sum total of personal experience to draw upon. Anyone who is looking at one of my paintings also brings to the viewing all of their own experience, too.
2. SVMag: What actor would play you in a movie about your life?
Philpott – Why? Viggo Morgenson. I heard him describe his creative principles in a radio interview and that lead me to believe that his own sensibilities would enable him to portray mine. He would “get” it.
Voss-Andreae – I envision Arnold Schwarzenegger. We have, after all, the same accent.
3. SVMag: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?
Hacer-he – Los Angeles will always be my home but I do look forward to the day that I have a studio in Paris because it provides an opportunity to expand culturally. To be making work surrounded by all that history while having access to the type of industry I need is unparalleled in my experience. Paris, like Los Angeles, is an international city that inspires bold ideas fueled by ambition. That energy pushes me to be a more dynamic artist. Maybe it’s the survival instinct in me but I do my best in intense environments.
Voss-Andreae – It would be in Portland, Oregon, right in my house with my family. If I knew a better spot I would be there!
4. SVMag: Whose artwork do you collect?
Voss-Andreae – My children’s. They are amazing artists and all completely different.
Adams – Since I’m constantly falling in love with all sorts of artworks, I could never afford to form a personal collection of them. So instead I browse through the works of friends and peers in the art world with an eye toward appreciation and inspiration. I’m truly in awe of some of the work being made around me. … I once saw a tiny gem of a landscape by the 17th- century. Dutch artist Van de Velde that made me stop breathing, it was so quiet and lovely. I couldn’t “collect” it, but I collect its perfection in my memory.
To experience Sun Valley’s thriving art scene for yourself, wander through our galleries during a Gallery Walk night on the first Friday of every month, and meet many of these artists, who are in attendance during these special evenings. Book a class taught by a local, or visiting artist-in-residence, through the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, or plan your week around the Wood River Valley Studio Tour, September 26 to 28, to engage with artists where they work, stepping inside their studios to view the creative process up close and personal.
All of the artists interviewed here will be exhibiting in galleries in Sun Valley during the summer months, so don’t miss the chance to see these remarkable works in person.