Art On A Whim
Colorado artist Alex Alvis imagined her House Horse Series before any of the figures were ever brought to their lyrical forms. At the time she was living in suburbia and taking horseback riding lessons with her husband, Mark.
It was from these artistic visions that “Look!,” “Relax!,” “Watch!,” “Leap” and “Step High” were created. Her sculptures incorporate stylized elements, like unusually long legs, which she says is how the horses appeared to her — a characteristic that reflects the vibrancy and untamed form of wild horses.
“Look!” was the first horse she imagined. He was upstairs on the landing outside her studio, looking up at Alvis as to say “Look! Here I am! Create me!”
“And so, I did,” says Alvis.
She says she saw “Relax!” next, sitting in the serene position in which the horse has now been cast. She was resting on top of a piano, enjoying music.
All the horses have a story like this — a personality of their own.
“There is something about her work that we just fell in love with,” says Art on a Whim Galleries co-owner, Ross Raitman, standing next to a collection of Avis’s signature pieces in the Vail Village gallery. “These are a lot more playful than most horse sculptures you usually see — they are not nearly as blocky, or as chunky, and have much smoother lines.”
Alvis uses a Japanese paper clay to create her originals. It’s a light and delicate method, allowing her to work with the pieces while they are freestanding or in her hands. Once she creates a form, the clay dries, and Alvis carves it like wood.
“That’s how she is able to get those insane details in the mane and tail,” Raitman says.
Alvis’s sculptures average 20 inches tall, or so, yet their expressive postures and personalities are so life-like it’s tempting to collect them all. Each paper clay original is destroyed in the making of the mold for its bronze edition.
Alvis works with a specialized patineur in the Loveland area who creates the vibrant and dynamic color schemes on each horse in the collection.
“Like this ‘gold flash’ patina,” Raitman says, pointing out the horse sculpture, named “Yata” — from Alvis’s Lakota Wind Series. “Very few people in the world can make that color.”
Yata’s gold veined accents over a gray-purple background almost seem to give the 19-inch-high horse a living pulse that runs through its lengthy body, delicate expression and wind-strewn hair. The Lakota Wind Series includes both “Yata” and “Okaga,” the north wind and the south wind. The native legend of the Lakota inspired Alvis to create the series. She is still working on the east wind, “Yanpa”; ”Eya,” the west wind, is currently being cast, along with three new “Mini-Mustangs.”
Alvis creates wildlife sculpture, in addition to the horses. A new, large bronze sculpture of a mountain lion will be at Art on a Whim Galleries in June or July; and a Sumatran elephant will be making its appearance at the gallery this winter.
Alvis and her husband now live on a ranch in the northeastern Front Range of Colorado. Art on a Whim Galleries will be hosting her for a show in their Vail gallery the first weekend of August.
“It’s fun to have people selling my work who are so excited about it, too,” she says. “I love that aspect of it. Art on a Whim is one of those galleries that’s just an invaluable part of the equation for an artist like myself.”
— kim fuller