Continuing the Olaf Wieghorst legacy, Wieghorst family entrusts family collection to El Cajon museum

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Olaf Wieghorst’s love of the Old West, horses, and the inhabitants of the region is at the root of the art that is now revered as those from America’s greatest Western genre artist. Wieghorst captured a time past, the beauty of the horse and the culture that lived within each piece. Whether it be in his sculptures, in oil, watercolor, charcoal or sketched on paper, his creations portray a part of American history, not so long past.

Olaf Wieghorst’s love of the Old West, horses, and the inhabitants of the region is at the root of the art that is now revered as those from America’s greatest Western genre artist. Wieghorst captured a time past, the beauty of the horse and the culture that lived within each piece. Whether it be in his sculptures, in oil, watercolor, charcoal or sketched on paper, his creations portray a part of American history, not so long past. Now, for the first time, many of his original sketches, paintings and many other unseen works have a permanent home at the Wieghorst Western Heritage Center in El Cajon.

With 53 new pieces, including his only five sculptures, this new exhibit is going up immediately. Museum Director Earlene Hollmichel said that the museum only received a short notice of the delivery and that there are plans for a formal reception in the future, but now is the task of getting the pieces ready for display. For the first few weeks, all of the new artwork will be displayed, but then it will be rotated with the other originals at the museum. Some of date from the 1930s. This remarkable artwork comes from the Wieghorst family personal collection.

“We have several of the horses we have never seen before. There are oils, penning, water colors, sketches,” she said. “It is all original artwork and it is now a permanent part of the museum. The Wieghorst family did a trust, and this is left to us. Roy and Barbara Wieghorst want this to remain as part of the Wieghorst legacy. That’s what is going to happen.”

There are several wonders hidden in this collection. One sketch, when Lynn Endicott (owner of Silver Creek Fine Art Gallery & Custom Framing) was working on it, she discovered another sketch on the other side that no one knew was there. So she framed it in a frame so that you can see the sketching on the back. It is several sketches of bears. Not even the family knew it was there. A portrait of his father is rare, because Olaf did not do portraits. There is a series of five water colors he worked on for author Louis L’Amour. He was working on a book, and Olaf on the illustrations, but Louis L’Amour got sick and passed away before they could finish the book.

“Olaf was always sketching. He’d go to restaurants and sketch on the tablecloths, linen, and even one on an airline barf bag,” she said. “It is kind of a montage of what he has done. Even when we had the “Retrospective” exhibit, we didn’t have all of these. There are so many that haven’t been seen by anyone but family. Several that he made for his wife are personalized and those are many the family kept. But the rest of them, even his favorite horse are now in the permanent collection. They will not be sold. Everyone assumes he only did oil, but this shows he did pen and ink, charcoal, water color, sculptures and even a wash.”

This is a piece of art history that can only be seen at the Olaf Wieghorst Museum. Each piece, regardless of medium is unmistakably Olaf’s work, yet the difference between the oils, charcoals and water colors show the diversity of this self-taught artist. The L’Amour collection is stunning in detail and each one fitting of a L’Amour character. His charcoal and pencil sketches show his imagination at work, and the horses simply stunning. There are a lot of surprises in this collection, and it shows the diversity of his talent and his love of Western art.

Though no official reception has been made yet, this new exhibit is up and open for viewing. There is an opportunity to see the new additions at the Olaf Wieghorst Museums “Salmagundians and their friend-Southern Californian” (artist who paint their subjects in open air to capture the effects of light and atmosphere) opening reception from 5:50 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7. This exhibit offers the works of many local artists.

Contributing to the exhibit are Chona Doering, Pat Ford, Greg Kreutz, Fred Gregory, Chuck McPherson, Mary Ford, Pat Welsh, Nita Harper, Gloria Chadwick, Lee Katz, Betty Holmes, Val Carson, Joy Floro, Steve Dern, Dawn Secord, Grace Schlesier, Coco Brown and Leslie Jakes.

This is a great opportunity to see the work of many local artist and see the private collection of the Wieghorst family, now in its permanent home at the Olaf Wieghorst Museum at the same time. The museum is located at 131 Rea Ave, El Cajon. For more information about the hours, the upcoming exhibit call 619-590-3431 or visit www.wieghorstmuseum.org.

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