Stories Behind the Art and the Artist

In Print

2023 The Art of the Portrait

AMERICAN MYTHOLOGY:
A CONVERSATION WITH JOHN COLEMAN

 

Born and raised in Southern California, John Coleman is a
leading figure in the world of Western Art, with developed
mastery in three mediums – sculpture, oil painting, and
drawing. His storytelling is deeply rooted in American
mythology and traditions, often focused on Native American imagery and the history of the American West. Coleman began his career as an artist in his early forties after a successful career in real estate.

In 2001, he was inducted into the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America (CAA), and several years later, served as president of the organization. His works can be found in private and public collections around the world, including the Joslyn Art Museum, Tucson Museum of Art, Phoenix Art Museum, Gilcrease Museum, and Briscoe Western Art Museum.

2017 Western Art Collector

A Historic Return

 

To create a stunning new collection of work for a solo exhibition, John Coleman had to cause a drought of his work for the better part of a year, a drought that was clearly over when guests arrived at the November 5 show at The Legacy Gallery and were greeted by a 17-foot bronze of a Native American medicine man firing a flaming arrow into the sky. It’s title: The Rainmaker.

The show, John Coleman: Spirit • Lives • Legend, marked the triumphant return of the Arizona sculptor, who had been largely absent at major museum exhibitions throughout 2016 as he prepared for the solo show, which marked a new chapter in Coleman’s career, one as a full-fledged painter…

2016 Southwest Art

Soul Connections

 

Amidst the soft light and deep shadows of a teepee’s interior, a young girl communes with her favorite doll, dressed like her in native garb and, also like her, with jet-black hair falling in two long braids. On the slanting wall of hide behind her hang other dolls, each possessing its own spirit and story waiting to be breathed into life in the girl’s hands.

Entitled POWWOW WITH THE LITTLE PEOPLE, the recent charcoal drawing by John Coleman presents such rich contrasts of tone and texture, such assured and harmonious composition, that it, too, seems to breathe with life…

2016 Western Art Collector

The Return

 

In November 2015, as the Cowboy Artists of America celebrated its 50th anniversary with an exhibition in Scottsdale, Arizona, sculptor and CA member John Coleman found himself at the Scottsdale Artists’ School teaching half a dozen sculptors of all ages how to find truth in clay. As the students worked—their subjects were two nude models, one male and one female—John bounced from table to table, assessing their work and offering tips.

Toward the end of the class, John started doing a demonstration of his own work. On a wire armature was a wadded roll of tinfoil…

2016 Western Art & Architecture

Crossing Over

 

Almost a quarter century ago, well into middle age and just shy of his 44th year, John Coleman shucked aside real estate development and, as a veritable unknown, ventured into the world of Western art. Not long afterward, something extraordinary happened: Coleman became a phenomenon. Like a comet suddenly streaking across the horizon, his emergence — most notably, his sophisticated sculptures of Native American subjects – left collectors and fellow artisans stunned…

2015 Western Art Collector

Honeymoon At Crow Fair

 

I think it fitting if I begin this story with a statement by the artist John Coleman. This does in fact provide a perspective to what began as, in my opinion, the most impressive of all his works to date.

“The idea for Honeymoon at Crow Fair first came to me when I purchased an antique parasol. Some of my favorite historic Native American imagery includes pictures of a warrior, dressed in regalia associated with doing battle, and is holding what we consider today to be a symbol of femininity; the parasol,” says Coleman. “Seeing this always makes me smile, but when you understand the practicality of portable shade for a man living on the plains, and that some of these men were flamboyant, it makes a lot of sense. The perfect vehicle I felt to explore my parasol idea was to create a piece depicting a couple from the early 1900s participating in the annual Crow Fair Parade on the Crow Agency, introducing themselves to their people for the first time as newlyweds.”…

2013 Cowboys & Indians

Western Artist: John Coleman

 

The world-renowned sculptor talks with C&I about the importance of Native history, story telling, and emotion in his bronze renderings of the mythology of theWest.

Somewhere in the collective American imagination lives the essence of the history and legend of the vast American West. For renowned Cowboy Artist John Coleman, that legend lives in bronze. The Arizona-based sculptor has dedicated his life’s work to reflecting the West in a way that reveals his deep insight into this most significant aspect of our American identity…

2013 Fine Art Connoisseur

Reanimating America’s History

 

In Indianapolis, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art is set to host its eighth annual Quest for the West Art Show and Sale, which will again feature recent works by 50 of today’s best Western artists. Its lively opening weekend kicks off on September 6, and the show closes exactly one month later.

Also opening at the Eiteljorg on September 6 will be Honored Life: The Art of John Coleman, a show focused entirely on the recipient of the Artist of Distinction Award at last year’s Quest for the West. That prize is bestowed by members of the museum’s staff and of its Western Art Soci­ety, who consider all of the artists participating in the current Quest for the West show…

2012 Western Art Collector

In Memoriam

 

Both men remember the moment. It was the Spring of 2009. Richard Moylan, newly-elected treasurer of the National Sculpture Society, and John Coleman, a fellow of the organization, were in Loveland, Colorado, for a group meeting. Viewing works at the Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art, they discussed one of Coleman’s bronzes in the Explorer Artists, Bodmer/Catlin Series. It was an Indian figure based upon the original 1830s painting by George Catlin. Moylan observed “I have him.” Thinking he was talking about the bronze, and knowing where all the casts were located, Coleman responded “I don’t think so.” What Moylan meant, as president of the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, was that George Callin is buried at his famed facility…

2010 Western Art Collector

Perseverance

 

During the mid-1980s I was invited by my friend Steve Rose of Biltmore Galleries to join a group of approximately 100 prominent businessmen, including judges, attorneys, doctors, astronauts, artists and art enthusiasts, in the formation of the “Charlie Russell Riders,” a gentleman’s ride. The entire group would meet at various ranches throughout Montana for a week of trail riding, fishing, prevaricating, drinking, and gourmet food. In the late 1980s, our ride was at the Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Emigrant, Montana. We were assigned our cabins, which were shared by four riders. The mornings were extremely cold and the only heat was a wood-burning stove. We agreed to take turns getting up at 5 a.m. to build a fire so that we could at least melt the ice that formed on the container of water we placed on the stove the night before to share first thing in the morning…

2010 Western Art Collector

The End of a Series

 

The Legacy Gallery unveiled the last two pieces of John Coleman’s Explorer Artists Series, inspired by Karl Bodmer and George Catlin, on March 25 at a special collectors’ event at their Scottsdale gallery. The pieces, Wunnestow, The White Buffalo and Pachtuwa-Chta, Arikara Warrior, were well-received by collectors and sales were robust all evening.

“The introduction of the two last pieces of Coleman’s Explorer Artists Series was an outstanding success,” says gallery manager Scott Jones. “Sales of Wunnestow, The White Buffalo totaled 25 along with 17 sales of Pachtuwa-Chta, Arikara Warrior.” The gallery also sold four pieces of Coleman’s work not from the Catlin/Bodmer series…

2010 Art of the West

Mythology as a Metaphor

 

The marble sculpture, The Rape of Proserpina by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, captured John Coleman’s imagination and later inspired him in his own work. Actually, what really stirred his muse was the way Pluto’s hand leaves an indentation on the leg of Proserpina. “It’s photographed a lot, because the pressing of the flesh is so beautiful,” Coleman says. Inspired by that sculpture, Coleman sought to evoke a similar expression in his bronzes when he began his art career in 1993. Although the result fell somewhat short of his vision, he turned the experience into a valuable lesson…

2007 Southwest Art

Shades of Gray

 

Decades before he took the western art world by storm as a sculptor, John Coleman wielded charcoal. The Prescott, AZ, artist’s foray into drawing began in high school and progressed to studies in life drawing at Chouinard Art Institute. Today Coleman, who also enjoys success as a painter, continues to revere the art form and often showcases his figurative drawings alongside his Native American-themed bronze sculptures and oils. Usually they complement those works and help cement a theme, he says, and sometimes good drawings inspire paintings, as FIRST CHIEF did…