I was given the distinct impression very early on, thanks to a particularly snarly art teacher in 7th Grade, that I’d do well to pursue other interests outside the visual arts. So without missing a beat (as it were) I sang and dance and acted for many years – unknowingly following in the character shoes of my great-grandfather.
But I dabbled – and eventually I found media that made sense to me. And more importantly I found teachers who actually helped! In a proud Morales Moment *, I found that the action of tossing that mean lady AND her tsk-tsk-ing voice out of my head opened a door to some actual creativity and even a degree of success. I still don’t call myself an “artist” easily… but in truth, it’s what I do. So there!
( * – I know, I’m mixing artistic metaphors – but it was a great lesson, as well as a killer number.)
AND I can claim genetic pre-disposition in this arena as well!! There are painters and sculptors in my family tree. Well, one anyway – one man who did both. And did it very well indeed.
Frederic Sackrider Remington (1861-1909) is one of the famous ones. You can hold your chardonnay glass just so, squint at a painting, and say “Yes, yes… so very Remington-esque!” – and people in certain circles will know what you mean. If it’s true, anyway. (And if it’s not true, they’ll tell you why you’re full of hooey.) So yeah, Big Deal Painter. AND Big Deal Sculptor.
Western artist, primarily – in spite of his New York roots. His action-y scenes remind me of Charley Russell’s work (with whom I’m connected as well – but only because he was a friend of my Wright folks in Utica, Montana while he was still working as a ranch hand.)
Such terrific vitality and spirit in these pieces – a Remington bronze from 1902 (“Coming Through the Rye”) and a Russell painting (“A Quiet Day in Utica”, from 1907). (Side note: It’s entirely possible there are Wrights depicted among the riders and onlookers. He often dropped actual people into his paintings – and the Wrights were well represented in Utica in 1907.)
But when it comes to Remington, I gravitate to his quieter pieces. I actually saw the first one – “The Scout: Friend or Foe?”, finished in 1905 – at the Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts – and never imagined the painter was kin. The other, “Shotgun Hospitality” from 1905, really highlights his great abilities as an illustrator. This wasn’t an illustration, but there is certainly a very specific story being told there.
If I’d ever looked up Remington in Wikipedia before last night, his middle name would have been a dead giveaway. The Sackriders are an old Germany-Alsatian branch on my father’s side of the tree. They hung around Massachusetts and Rhode Island after arriving in the Colonies in the very early 1700s. They made their way through Connecticut, into New York State, and settled in upper Westchester County, as well as the large Beekman Patent lands in Dutchess and Columbia Counties, and the town of Halfmoon, Saratoga County – at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers. (The town was called Halfmoon after the ship Henry Hudson sailed when discovering the area.)
Sybil Sackrider married Ens. Oliver Waite in Halfmoon in 1763, and they come down into my Watson clan by way of Rev. Elisha’s wife, Harriet Husted. Sybil’s brother Oliver Sackrider was Remington’s ancestor. Trust me on this – Frederic Remington is my 4th Cousin, 4 times removed.
What’s even cooler – and I’m including this teaser for the specific purpose of finally, hopefully, committing the topic to memory – there’s another connection between Russell, Utica, and my family in Saratoga County. Maybe now I’ll actually remember to write that one!!