Mike Bell–a love story

Photo by Christine Magnusson

On Sunday I got two calls asking me if I knew who Mike Bell was. My great aunt and uncle, John and Marie Jordan Bell, had the Iron Mountain Ranch, near the Jordan Ranch where I grew up (and where Marie also was raised). I said I didn’t know––John and Marie didn’t have any children. Perhaps it was a son of one of John’s brothers. I said it was odd that two people called me on the same day asking about a Bell I had never heard of before (I thought I knew John’s extended family). It turns out that Christine Magnusson’s seven-year-old son had unearthed this gravestone and she had posted it on Facebook. (The Magnusson family now lives on the Iron Mountain Ranch.)  Continue Reading →

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Influence: Deborah Butterfield (1949–)

Meridian and Bonfire, 1995

I have followed the work of Deborah Butterfield for thirty years and it never fails to reduce me to tears. It also leaves me in a puddle of the most pure and absolute desire. If I was allowed only one art book to last me the rest of my life on that proverbial desert island, it would feature the work of Deborah Butterfield. If Christie’s Auction House gave me a blank check, I would buy something by Deborah Butterfield. If only, if only, I could live with one of her horses. Continue Reading →

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Influence: Mark Rothko (1903-1970)

When I was 11 years old, I visited cousins in Downer’s Grove, a Chicago suburb, and they took me to the Chicago Institute of Art. I had never been to an art museum before, and I was thrilled. Back at the ranch, my mother subscribed to a series of art books from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and every month or two a new volume would arrive and we would pore over the 8×10 cut sheets from the envelope inside the back cover. But to see some of these works in person—Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, Monet’s Haystacks, Grant Wood’s American Gothic —took my breath away. Continue Reading →

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Influence: Franz Marc (1880-1960)

The Red Horses, 1911

I believe that I am an artist, at least in part, because of a print that hung over the love seat in the isolated Wyoming ranch house were I grew up. All the other art in the house was Western, reproductions of works by Charlie Russell, Frederic Remington, and Will James. “The Red Horses” by Franz Marc was the single exception, something my mother had brought back from Germany after my father’s service there in the post-war occupation. Continue Reading →

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