Saturday, February 14, 2015


BOOK by David J. Wagner, Ph.D. 

ART OF THE DIVE / PORTRAITS OF THE DEEP is a book that catalogues a 2011-2012 museum exhibition that featured work by leading artists who portray underwater life and habitat. ART OF THE DIVE / PORTRAITS OF THE DEEP includes color photographs of paintings, sculptures, murals, and monuments by the world’s leading dive painters and sculptors, and biographies of each artist. These begin with Stanley Meltzoff (1917-2006), who, as author/curator Dr. David J. Wagner explains, was given his art-of-the-dive start with a commission from National Geographic Society in the 1960’s and who is now generally recognized as the progenitor of the genre. Others include Charles Allmond, Al Barnes, Renée Bemis, Eric Berg, M.J. Brush, Ian Coleman, Jean-Louis Courteau, Guy Harvey, John Kobald, Diane Peebles, Randy Puckett, Don Ray, George Schelling, Randall Scott, Rachelle Siegrist, Wes Siegrist, Mark Susinno, Fred Thomas, Kent Ullberg, Ronnie Williford, Wyland.

Guy Harvey, Blue Runner, 2007, Acrylic, 30x40

ART OF THE DIVE / PORTRAITS OF THE DEEP, was designed by Wes Siegrist and published for David J. Wagner on, a print-on-demand self-publishing service.  ART OF THE DIVE / PORTRAITS OF THE DEEP, is available at:

Randy Puckett, Encounter, 1997, Bronze, 32x60x24

 Though replete, detailed paintings created from the perspective of the dive have existed now for almost fifty years, a comprehensive museum exhibition of the genre did not exist before been produced before David J. Wagner, L.L.C. produced ART OF THE DIVE / PORTRAITS OF THE DEEP.  The exhibit was intended to document and acknowledge achievements of painters who have dedicated themselves to portraying aquatic themes from the perspective of diving.  Stanley Meltzoff established the genre among painters in the 1960’s, beginning with a painting of striped bass which Sports Illustrated published in 1966.  Meltzoff was subsequently emulated by a second generation of painters, many of whom are represented in this exhibition.  Sculptors on the other hand, have celebrated the richness and beauty of marine life, for hundreds of years before that.  But over the past fifty years, certain artists have pushed the expression of marine themes in sculpture in new and interesting ways.  Kent Ullberg, for example, not only pushed media beyond bronze to include stainless steel, but also pushed the scale and the aesthetic of the genre from one of realism to post-modernism, all of which were informed by collaborations with leading architects and landscape designers, and first-hand experience as a diver dating back to 1965 when he enlisted as a navy seal in the Swedish armed forces.  ART OF THE DIVE strives to recognize and honor artists who have perennially produced work of the highest quality.  In addition to quality, another criteria that guided the composition of this exhibition has been diversity . . . diversity in terms of subject matter, media, style, geography, etc.  Insomuch as the world's water is a barometer for the health of the inhabitants of our oceans, lakes, and rivers, subjects found in ART OF THE DIVE, and their richness and beauty, function as a powerful foil against destruction symbolized recently by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil-rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.  Of course, that sensational spill is but the tip of the ice berg when it comes to dangers confronting underwater life (e.g., bycatch from commercial fishing, coral reef destruction, wastewater discharge, etc.etc.etc.).  Because ART OF THE DIVE celebrates beauty and diversity, it shouts out the need for marine conservation and stewardship in positive and powerful ways.  

Randall Scott, Reef Sentinel, 2004, Acrylic, 36x30


Charles Allmond (Wilmington, DE)
Al Barnes (Fulton, TX)
Reneé Bemis (DeKalb, IL)
Eric Berg (Philadelphia, PA)
M.J. Brush (Mystic, CT)
Ian Coleman (Great Britain)
Jean-Louis Courteau (Quebec, Canada)
Guy Harvey (Cayman Islands, BWI)
John Kobald (Meeker, CO)
Stanley Meltzoff (1917-2006)
(Meltzoff Art on loan from estate collection of Mike Rivkin & painter Don Ray)
Diane Peebles (St. Petersburg, FL)
Randy Puckett (Salinas, CA)
Don Ray (Vero Beach, FL)
George Schelling (Laceyville, PA)
Randall Scott (Palm City, FL)
Rachelle and Wes Siegrist (Townsend, TN)
Mark Susinno (Harrisburg, PA)
Fred Thomas (Shoreline, WA)
Kent Ullberg (Corpus Christi, TX)
Ronnie Williford (Georgetown, TX)
Wyland (Laguna Beach, CA)

Ronnie Williford, The Color Garden, 2011, Oil, 72x36

For further information, contact:

David J. Wagner, Ph.D., Author, Curator/Tour Director
Tour Office, David J. Wagner, L.L.C.
Phone: (414) 221-6878

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Ellen Woodbury
Verde Guatemala Marble on Granite
18 1/2 x 8 x 8 inches
Photo by Mel Schockner
© Ellen Woodbury

Every aspect of a horse’s existence is based on movement.  They graze to eat and walk to digest, they see in perspective only when they move their heads from side to side as in walking, their hooves are little pumps that circulate blood in their legs as hoof impacts ground.  They live to move, and move to live.
 “Exuberant” was inspired by my dressage horse, Amarretto.  In his youth he was tall and slender, an honest 16.3 hands high, with attractive uphill confirmation and pretty gaits.  He loved to move and he loved to play.  I discovered his enthusiasm for inventing and playing games during a lay-up after an injury that required stall rest.  He was hand-walked for several weeks and then brought back slowly into work.  During that time, we did ground driving and de-sensitizing exercises with scary objects like cardboard boxes and the dreaded blue tarp.  He was fascinated with the mazes and obstacle courses I guided him through, and eventually ended up wearing the tarp and carrying a box in his teeth that held his treats as he negotiated the course.  (The first time I put the treats in the box I could see from his facial expressions that his brain was racing to determine the possibilities of what I had just done!)
 Here’s another story:  Amarretto had an enormous safety cone in the turn-out paddock that was a favorite toy during his daily personal playtimes.  He would throw the safety cone into the neighboring turn-out hoping the horse relaxing there would throw the cone back to him.  Nobody ever did.  One of his horse buddies, Magoo, was on stall-rest for several weeks and would continually observe this one-sided game from his stall.  When Magoo was finally well enough to have a turn-out, he knew how to play the game and was the only horse who returned the thrown safety cone.  That totally warmed my heart!
 Amarretto’s joi de vivre was not confined to his turn-outs, and riding with him was often an adventure in movement.  Exuberant is the best word to describe his philosophy of life.  I take that feeling forward with every sculpture I create.  This one is for him.    
 The stone is Verde Guatemala Marble, originally quarried in Guatemala, as you might expect.  The quarry ran out of stone some time ago, but a new strain of the same marble was found in India, so this particular block is Verde Guatemala from India.  (Geology is fascinating!)  The stone is extremely hard, and certainly the hardest marble I have ever carved.  The friction from cutting this stone was burning off the nickel plating on my diamond blade and I had to switch to a sintered blade, used for cutting granite.  Slow going, but it did the trick. 
 Filing and sanding were extreme finger-busting efforts.  Each stage in the progression from raw stone to 600-grit sandpaper had to be done perfectly—all scratches and tool marks had to be obliterated with each successive tool in order for the final “skin” to be flawless.  The next-higher grit was not effective in removing flaws missed by the previous sand paper.  Deep and rich color almost always comes with a price, and Guatemala Verde is no exception.  However, the end justifies the means for this color freak.