Seldom Creek Ranch is a quintessential Gallery of Western Art, both classic and contemporary, owned by songwriter and producer, Tree Menane.
Tree is his own story, he’s worked with a lot of (mostly) Country Music stars over the years, including the late Lynn Anderson and Mentor Williams. But that’s another tale for a later post on Tree. Suffice it to say that while he was making his own art in the studio, and producing other (recording) artists, Tree collected Fine Art
Robin Lieske is one of the artists he has patronised for over a decade.
When I dropped in to see Tree last week, I walked around looking at the art on display in his beautiful Gallery on Camino De La Placitas, when I was drawn in to a side room, by the extraordinary work hanging on its walls.
Tree has an incredible gallery which includes a resale room with valuable pieces from estate sales at unbelievably low prices, along with a stable of accomplished artists, including the very talented, contemporary Navajo artist, Anderson Kee, who has long worked closely with Angus MacDonald, (another great Western artist I’ve featured on the blog.) But Robin Lieske’s work really stood apart from the rest.
“She’d be a good fit for your blog,” Tree remarked. I agreed.
The next day I called Robin at her home in Arizona, at the appointed time Tree had arranged, and we chatted a bit about her work and her creative process.
Robin, who has been drawing since she was a small child, first immersed herself in print making. The copper plate etching shown here at the top of the page, illustrates her expertise in that realm. She has completed three award-winning book projects (also for sale at Seldom Creek Ranch), and in the last six years, has turned to painting.
“Printmaking, which I love so much, just got too hard on my body,” she told me.
Her imagery is so unique and so powerful, I asked her how she approaches the (blank) canvas.
“What tends to happen is I get these images strongly in my head,” she explained, “a lot of times I get an emotional feeling then a week or so later it’s followed by an image which I have to get out.”
“I have to get rid of it.” She laughed. “That’s my process.”
“Once I had an image in my head for a decade, ” she recalled. “I was so involved with other things, child raising and different projects, “I found it hard to shift gears.”
We discussed the difficulty of working on art while being a full on mother. I’m certain the reason history presents us with so fewer female painters is exactly this.
“I had a long fallow period.” she recalled. ” A little access to a class or a studio enabled me to have short bursts of creativity – I’d make small bodies of work here and there, but while the kids were teenagers, it was a very dry spell.”
She has three children. “But once they were gone, I immediately began to work again and in the six years that I’ve been painting, I’ve made over eighty pieces, I think that’s a good amount of work!” She sounded pleased.
Originally from Minnesota, she went to college in Arizona and has remained in the State ever since, which is where Tree met and discovered her, years ago when he owned a ranch there.
She loves Taos and is thrilled to be hanging in Tree’s gorgeous gallery and looks forward to having an opening here later this year. She is currently preparing for a show of her new series (Bridge of Bones), which was inspired when she recently helped a friend in dying.
“It’s about transition,” she told me. “Not just death but transitions of all kinds.”
For more about Robin and her exceptional work, please visit the Seldom Creek Ranch Website linked below this post.
All images c/o Seldom Creek Ranch Gallery