The West Nebraska Arts Center, with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, presents “Between the Plains and the Mountains by Carla Stroh & Jory Zurcher.” It will be presented Thursday, June 3. Come to the reception and have an opportunity to meet the artists.
This exhibit is a lovely display of intense traditional western artwork. These two artists take the wonder of the west with all its intricate design and release it into leather, oil paint, saddles, charcoal, watercolor, color pencil and more. Come immerse yourself in the greatness that is western art.
Carla Stroh started drawing horses when she was five years old. They were her true love. She has since had formal training and gotten a degree in art education from Regis University and taught middle school art in Elizabeth, Colorado, for 10 years. Her passion has always been animals, horses in particular. Due to this, she was selected to be a signature illustrator for the Equine Acupressure books and subsequently Canine and Feline Acupressure books.
As for Stroh’s training and accolades, they stretch from Nebraska into Colorado and Wyoming. She attended an artists’ workshop with George Carlson in Sun Valley, Idaho, and other workshops with Judy Chapman and Greg Beecham. She is a member of the Western Nebraska Arts Center and the American Impressionist Society. Some of her artwork has been showcased in Light Rave and Glow Gala Nicolaysen Art Museum, Western Spirit Art Show, Oregon Trail Days, Douglas Invitational Art Show, Torrington 2Shot Invitational Art show, Painted life-sized antelope for Rawlins fundraiser and World of Interiors Magazine. She has done commissioned work for the youth orchestra fundraiser in Casper, Wyoming. In Niobrara County, Wyoming, she painted a Christmas bulb for First Lady, Jenny Gordon, as well as designed the Niobrara County Flag and windows for the Nicolaysen Art Museum fundraiser. Her work can also be seen in the St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Torrington, Wyoming. Stroh is a returning artist to the West Nebraska Arts Center.
“My goal with each piece of artwork is to present traditional and well honored western subject matter,” Stroh said. “I’m hoping to get the viewer to have a feeling of having been there. I try to use the intensity of light on my subjects to portray the people or animals that grace these western states. I want my drawings and paintings to tell a story in every detailed line or brush stroke of color. I find beauty in the simplest pose because of the interplay of light and shadow. It is so exciting.”
Jory Zurcher was born in Scottsbluff and grew up in the small town of Mitchell, Nebraska. At the age of two he could be found drawing circles instead of scribbling. Local artist and friend, Michelle Denton discovered his talent in pre-school. He then spent several days during the summer having his first art classes at her home. Traveling with his family to rodeos, he was never without paper and pencils to draw. Chapmaker Tim Bath would give Jory bags of scrap leather when his dad was picking up his rodeo chaps. This would become another medium Zurcher would pursue with the help of Bath. He did not know it at the time, but these life experiences set the foundation for his journey as an artist.
Zurcher attended Casper College on a rodeo scholarship and graduated in 2009 with a degree in agri-business. He then went to Chadron State College where he continued to rodeo while pursuing a degree in business. In 2010, he decided to switch his major to something he had always been passionate about, art. In 2013 he graduated from Chadron with a degree in art education. Later that year, he accepted a K-4 art education position in Buffalo, Wyoming, where he is now teaching for his eighth year.
Along with painting and drawing, Zurcher stays very busy with his leather business. His leatherwork can be seen around the nation being used by many professional rodeo cowboys. Zurcher built a pair of replica chaps for the film “Floating Horses: The Life of Casey Tibbs.” The chaps are now on display in the Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Museum. He also won the chap category of the 2017 World Leather Debut. Other inspirations for his leatherwork include Lonnie Smith of Highmore, South Dakota, and Cary Schwarz of Salmon, Idaho.
“Every day is a gift and an opportunity to learn. All the experiences in my life have shown me not to take it for granted. I feel blessed to live the life I do and to be amongst God’s beautiful creations,” Zurcher said. “The art I create could not happen without my faith, family and friends. The birth of our first son has given me a whole new perspective and has inspired me to accomplish more with my art. My love of horses has helped me become the artist I am today. I have learned so much from horses, and I believe that is what taught me to draw. From bucking horses, colts, to old saddle horses, I have learned something from all of them. I would hope to portray my experiences and observations to my audience.
“Leather is such a unique material that enables me to use several different art mediums in one. My goal is to create something that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. Beauty can be found in an intricate floral tooling design or the simplicity of the natural patina of plain leather. Perhaps the best description of all my work is a balance of simplicity and intricacy.”