Bronze Masterwork By James. P. Regimbal October 09, 2016 09:26
I have been collecting James Regimbal sculptures for a very long time and believe they are some of the finest pieces in my large collection, and in the field today. His eye to detail and finish is unparalleled. His work is extraordinary and if you are looking for an authentic piece of art depicting individuals in our past that are investment grade, than a James Regimbal sculpture is for you. To celebrate his work, Carol Sims from the Antiques and the Arts Weekly wrote the following article for culturalpatina. It was published in the "Gallery" on 10-7-16
Bronze Masterwork By James P. Regimbal Regimbal
By Carol Sims
YUCCA VALLEY, CALIF. - A life-long resident of the American West, James Regimbal (a French Canadian name pronounced with a soft "g") early turned to Western themes for his artwork, and his studio is in the spectacular landscape of the Southern California desert, next to Joshua Tree National Monument and very close to where Gene Autry made his movies out in Pioneer Town.
At 21 Regimbal left his home in Yakima, Washington for the adventures of a young itinerant artist, riding freight trains through Montana and Wyoming and selling his original clay models from street corners to pay for food and art supplies. It was the spring of 1971. "I never looked back," said Regimbal in an interview with Antiques and The Arts Weekly. "Sometimes I would rent a garage for $20 or $50 a month and use it as my studio and a place to sleep. I sold hundreds of clay models back in those days."
In 1977, Regimbal met a bronze agent who represented several notable Western sculptors and this agent helped establish a steady demand for the young artist's work. Collectors and galleries began to take note, and Regimbal began to sculpt larger and more important pieces, some detailed sculptures taking up to a year to complete in clay before they were cast in bronze.
Regimbal spoke of how important it is to work with a good foundry. "I have used Kalispell Art Casting in Kalispell, Montana for 28 years. Your work is only as good as the foundry. Now it takes me two solid days to drive up there, and sometimes in winter it's forty below." He also works with American Fine Arts Foundry in Burbank, Calif., which takes him through notoriously jammed LA freeways.
"Cowhands" expresses the day-to-day heroism of the American cowboy doing his job of moving and protecting cattle. The rider is presented at the highest point of the sculpture, and he has a young, rescued calf resting on his lap. His faithful dog trots alongside, hence the plural title, for the cowhand, his horse, and his dog are a team.
Four steers navigate the steep trail, sculpted as individual animals with their own varied appearances and actions. One steer appears to be looking up at us, as if we were on an adjacent hillock, while the other three are watching where they are going and moving forward, down the trail. The steers are a Hereford-longhorn mix. Regimbal sought out a ranch veterinarian to be sure they were anatomically correct. "There was no guesswork," said the artist. "Every detail is accurate."
One of the style elements that sets Regimbal's bronzes apart from those of other artists is the texture and varied surfaces he sculpts into each piece. "Hair, wool, mane or tail, I try to work that out in the clay or the wax. I want it to look somewhat real," said Regimbal. This is very apparent in "Cowhands" where there are a variety of textures, from the sleek reflective muscles of the horse to the coarse, curly coated cows.
Another style element germane to Regimbal's bronzes is patina. "I didn't want paint put on my pieces. Eventually paint will come off a bronze. I am known for pioneering colored acid patinas in the 1970s and 80s. My early bronzes used to have a translucent chestnut brown patina, simulating the classic bronzes that were created with processes that have been lost-urination, burying the bronzes in certain soil. The foundry workers got more and more sophisticated with colors and some of the gals there could blend the acids and apply them so they wouldn't be gaudy. I would show them how to do the first few and then they could complete the edition."
Cast in 1989, "Cowhands" was created in an edition of 50, one of which has provenance of the University of Montana Foundation, Missoula, Mont.