Magazine article Southwest Art


Magazine article Southwest Art


Article excerpt

Lei Q. Min

Portraits of the past and present

WHEN LEI Q. MIN'S sister wrote a book about her experiences as a Chinese- American immigrant, she asked Min to contribute illustrations. Min's ensuing research so touched her that she embarked on a series of paintings that portray the experiences of early Chinese- American women immigrants, including stories of hardship and discrimination. "We're talking about a period from 1850 to 1950," says the figurative painter. "A lot of these were sad stories."

Min's family members often star in these period pieces, most of which are interior scenes staged in her studio with vintage décor and furnishings. The authentic costumes worn by her models are all handmade, sometimes by the artist herself. Using historical records and her own photographs of historic sites near her home in San Francisco, Min has re-created numerous poignant narratives. In ANGEL ISLAND, she portrays young Chinese women within the barracks of the Angel Island Immigration Station, which operated from 1910 until 1940. There, Asian newcomers were detained for interrogation, sometimes for months, before they could join their families in San Francisco. "I used a cool color palette for the moody light," notes Min, "to indicate the sadness."

Min studied art in her native China and later in Brussels, Belgium. In the 1980s and '90s, she found success as a portrait artist for government officials in Singapore. After moving to San Francisco in 2000, she continued her fine-art studies and earned a master's degree in painting from the Academy of Art University. Today her figurative works, which she paints from life using the alla prima method, have garnered top awards from prominent groups like the American Impressionist Society and the Portrait Society of America.

For years the artist painted in the tradition of the Dutch masters, and her historic paintings tend to reflect that darker, heavier style, says Min. But lately an emerging interest in the works of Joaquín Sorolla and other Impressionists has been playing out on her canvases. In April, she received the highest honor in the Bold- Brush competition for a bright, impressionistic painting titled SUMMER GARDEN. "I love the feeling that I can sculpt the paint," says Min. "I'm also interested in seeing the accidental effects, the unpredictable brush strokes, the warm and cold colors. Those kinds of things really bring me joy now." -Kim Agricola


Michele Z. Farrier

Moments worth savoring

ONE FRIGID winter morning, Michele Z. Farrier was sleepily making coffee at her kitchen sink when she spotted an unexpected visitor lingering outside the window. Farrier lives at the base of the Tetons in Alta, WY, and in the wintertime, snow piles up to the bottom of her windows. "Here I am, noseto- nose with this snowshoe hare!" she says. The artist, who primarily paints en plein air, immediately grabbed some paper and charcoal to record the moment and the phenomenal colors. "The snow was white and the rabbit was white," she says, "but he was a very warm, buffcolor, and the snow was a cold, almost green, neutralized lavender."

The spur-of-the-moment sketch, which later evolved into a pastel painting, embodies Farrier's philosophy as a painter. "My whole thing is, if there is a moment, seize it!" she says. The artist earned a bachelor's degree in studio art from the University of California, Davis, and she taught art in the Teton County School District for 19 years before retiring a few years ago to paint full time. Farrier has embraced her new schedule "hook, line, and sinker," she says. One of her western landscape paintings appeared in the Governor's Capitol Art Exhibition at the Wyoming State Museum in the winter, and in June, she completed an artist's residency at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, where she studied the paintings of N.C. Wyeth, Frederic Remington, and other masters. …

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