If you're an art connoisseur, you could travel to Santa Fe, San Francisco, or even Paris, to view and ponder the purchase of creative professional paintings and sculptures. Or, you could stay in the Golden Plains of America and see, and consider buying, impressive works of art by local and regional artists.
The close-to-home opportunity exists because four talented sculptors and artists are pursuing their passion for art in this area. The four -- all full-time professional artists -- are Don Dernovich, Gary Ginther, Sondra Jonson and Jon Leitner.
Because of the superb quality of their creations, all four have achieved widespread success. Their works of art are sold -- and displayed -- in many parts of the United States.
Late last week, I placed calls to the four artisans, asking them to update us on their current projects. They didn't disappoint. All are busily at work on multiple projects.
Dernovich Preparing for Shows
For Dernovich, who paints in his Taylor Street studio in Culbertson, the hours have been cram-packed in recent days because he is preparing for three art shows. "I'm getting ready for an Oil Painters of America exhibition in Fredericksburg, Texas,; a Phippen Museum Show in Prescott, Ariz.; and the C. M. Russell Show in Great Falls, Mont.," he said.
Dernovich will show one of his favorite oils in Fredericksburg. Called "Kathy in Her Garden," the 24 by 30-inch painting features Don's wife tending her garden. His showings in Prescott will include "Rural Route 000," a water color, and "Old Mossy Pond," an oil. Dernovich also has two large oil paintings up for auction at the Great Falls show. "First Snow in the High Country" is 40 by 60 inches, and "Prelude to Winter" is 30 by 36 nches.
Ginther Creating Life-Size Indian
Widening his sculpting horizons, Ginther is now at work on a life-size American Indian in bronze. His model is an Oglala Sioux, a tribe which inhabited this area in pre-settlement days.
Gary is now creating the framework with galvanized pipe and a foam substance, then will finish the work with a bronze exterior. "Otherwise," he said, "the piece would get too heavy to move around."
A cabin at Harry Strunk Lake northeast of Cambridge serves as Ginther's workplace. In addition to the life-size Indian, Gary is working on small pewter replicas of Sandhill cranes. The figures -- eight inches high and eight inches wide -- will be sold at Crane Meadows, Rowe Sanctuary and the Platte Valley Memorial Archway during the early spring crane season.
A reclining bronze bison, a half-life size bronze goose and a dancing Sandhill crane are among Ginther's other current works.
Jonson Crafting St. Benedict Sculpture
Sondra Jonson is gaining widespread recognition for her skill in creating inspiring, authentic likenesses of religious figures. Currently, she is at work on a life-size sculpture of St. Benedict for St. Benedict's Parish in Nebraska City. "It will be installed and dedicated in July, but I plan to have the sculpture done well in advance," Sondra said.
Sondra's studio is in a building behind her home at 716 Nelson in Cambridge. "It is one of the oldest structures in town," she said.
Showing the range of her talent, Sondra is also at work on a three-foot wall sculpture for the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota and she is assisting Fred Hoppe of Malcolm, Neb. on a project for the George Bush (Sr.) Presidential Library. Sondra is creating the sculpted portrait head for the exhibit.
Leitner Unveiling Platte Trailblazer
Within the next few weeks, Jon Leitner plans to unveil "Platte River Passage," a bronze casting which is a tribute to the trailblazers who led pioneers westward. Gnarled wood from the Platte will be embedded in the base of the sculpture, which will show a rugged Plainsman, with his hat bent backward by the wind, heading west with settlers in tow.
The trailblazer, with a beaded Indian guncase over his shoulder, will make its debut in Central Nebraska, with a showing at the Great Platte River Road Memorial Archway near Kearney under consideration. Jon is making 30 of the
Plainsman figures, with eight already sold.
Jon is also producing delicate bronze slippers for use as bookends, decorations and wall hangings.
He created the slippers originally as a memorial tribute to Camille Pittman, a 12-year-old Hastings girl who was killed, along with her mother, Cheri, in an automobile accident. Jon created the original for Camille's father, Danny, a personal friend. "The slipper represents dance, and the ribbons around the ballerina's ankle represent music," Jon said.
And, so it is in January of 2007 among the sculptors and artists of Southwest Nebraska.
Their creations are a proud representation of the expressive talents of the artists of the Golden Plains. No longer do art connoisseurs have to travel long distances to view and purchase outstanding aesthetic creations. Excellence in art exists right here at home.
McCook Daily Gazette
By Gene O. Morris
— January 22, 2007
George H.W. Bush - Sondra Jonson is assisting Fred Hoppe of Malcolm, Neb. on a project for the George Bush (Sr.) Presidential Library. Sondra is creating the sculpted portrait head for the exhibit.
"St. Benedict" is a life-size sculpture for St. Benedict's Parish in Nebraska City.
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Cambridge, NE 69022
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