Western comfort

The Artists Co-Op’s new show provokes warm images of home—on the range, that is

“Thundering Hooves” by Robert Logan.

“Thundering Hooves” by Robert Logan.

Photo By David Robert

For those who grew up on the East Coast, the images and icons of the West probably seem strange, rugged and perhaps even a little barbaric. But for those of us who have grown up among images of guns, bulls, wild horses and sepia-toned dirt, artwork featuring these subjects can be as comforting and familiar as a visit to a grandfather’s ranch.

Hodge Podge, an exhibit now featured at the Artists Co-Op Gallery, feels like a slice of life from my childhood in Texas. I can see many of these works hanging in a cozy, wood-paneled den filled with the faint scent of hand-rolled cigarettes, or sitting pretty on a wide, splintering porch next to a creaky rocking chair.

The exhibit’s name is as apt as it gets, as Hodge Podge features everything from paintings to gourds to rope baskets to bolo ties. Most of the “functional” art is made by Yvonne Logan, who shows a mastery of a diverse number of crafts. She makes tiny glass boxes with delicate etched designs and baskets out of coiled rope and other trinkets that can accent a room.

Harold Walker contributes a few miniature wooden chairs and benches, adorned with festive nameplates that read, “Welcome!”

Robert Logan’s various framed drawings and paintings depict Western life in both its natural and man-made forms. One drawing even showed a coyote snacking on a fairly large deer, but although it was detailed, it wasn’t at all gory. Logan is simply showing animals doing what they naturally do, and coyotes ain’t vegetarians, folks.

One of Logan’s works that immediately caught my eye was “Star Night,” a drawing of a horse in colored pencil. The entire picture is drawn in various shades of purple and gray, in an almost celestial, mystical manner. In this same vein, the horse’s head and neck are elongated and distorted, giving it the appearance of a creature out of a J.R.R. Tolkien book. The veins and sinews on the horse’s face and neck stand out as if it were tense or frightened, but the eyes strike me as being gentle at heart.

In another of Logan’s works, “Thundering Hooves,” the artist turns to watercolors on what appears to be a stretched rectangle of mottled leather. A herd of horses gallops toward the viewer, painted in various earthy browns and blacks. Combined with its brassy frame, which also depicts galloping horses, the entire work feels raw, active and utterly Western.

With the holidays approaching, a piece from Hodge Podge could be a refreshing change from the usual mass-produced gift for that special cowboy or cowgirl in your life.