Logan Maxwell Hagege, Art of the West, January-February 2016

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January/February 2016

For All Fine Art Collectors


A E A By Myrna Zanetell

Billowing, oil, 20˝ by 16˝ “An artist I greatly admire is the Austrian born Gustav Klimt. His ability to balance nearly abstract two-dimensional against fully rendered three-dimensional objects in his paintings is something that has stuck with me since my early days as an art student. In this painting I tried my best to set the relatively ‘realistically’ rendered figure against a rather two-dimensional background.”


ART of the WEST • January/February 2016


ast fall was an especially memorable time for Logan Maxwell Hagege, (pronounced ah jeh zi), whose surname hints at his French ancestry. He married Misty Zollars, who owns a denim company that makes women’s jeans. And he earned the Best of Show Purchase Award at the 2015 Quest for the West Exhibition at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis, Indiana. His colorful Native American image, Land With No Time, is now included in the museum’s permanent collection. Hagege also is a regular participant in the Masters of the American West exhibition at the Autry National Center for the American West in Los Angeles, California; the Prix de West exhibition at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and the Booth Museum of Western Art in Cartersville, Georgia. Each of those museums also has at least one of Hagege’s paintings in their permanent collections. Having already amassed an impressive list of credentials before reaching age 36, it might seem Hagege attained these honors rather easily, but the truth of the matter is they are the result of a dedicated vision that took root when he was quite young. Shortly after graduating from high school, he began a serious quest for a career in art, beginning with his enrollment at Associates in Art, an art school in Sherman Oaks, California, that is known for its demanding technical curriculum. When Hagege’s initial fascination with animation progressed to a love of fine art, he entered the school’s Advanced Master’s program, which was modeled after the French atelier style art schools. “We worked with live

models six hours a day, five days a week for two years, which provided me with a really strong base in learning how to draw,” he says. Anxious to put this figurative training to use in the real world, Hagege, who lives in Los Angeles, California, focused on creating impressionistic paintings of women on the sunlit shores of nearby Laguna Beach. He attributes the rather romantic atmosphere in those compositions to his admiration for the work of Spanish painter Joaquin Sorolla. “I loved painting beach scenes, because they gave me the freedom to experiment with colors and texture, as well as a variety of compositions,” he says. Indeed, change and problem solving seem to be the two operative words, when it comes to describing Hagege’s approach to art and life. Motivated by the desire to stretch his artistic sensibilities even further, in 2008 Hagege moved from his native California to the East Coast. He quickly set up studio space on Cape Cod, where he spent hours sketching and painting amid the coastal dunes and tall grasses, creating plein air studies that clearly delineated the vast differences in atmosphere and color palette between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Scenes of women on beaches continued to fill his canvases, but he says they were not Across the Endless Skies, oil, 30˝ by 50˝ “I have been lucky enough to work with great people, who are willing to pose for my paintings. There is no doubt that I’ve learned more from them than they have from me. All three of them weren’t in the same place at the same time, so it makes me smile to see them together on the same canvas, traveling across the desert as a unit. One of the joys of being an artist is that I am able to create a world of my own.”

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Common Ground, oil, 34˝ by 44˝

“This painting took much longer than usual for a piece this size. It’s hard to say why. An earlier stage had

only a clear blue sky, while another stage had a more simple white cloud pattern. After much back and forth with the sky, the landscape, and the figures, this is where it ended up. A painting tells me when it is finished, when nothing in the piece is screaming out at me to make a change.”

Photo by Lindsey Ross


so much about the women themselves as the opportunity they provided him to solve yet another series of painting problems. In contrast to the warmth of Laguna Beach, Hagege’s Cape Cod figures were veiled in a cool, filtered light that allowed him to experiment with softer textures, edges, and diverse color harmonies. Another aspect of his East Coast sojourn was the Cape’s proximity to Boston. In addition to providing him with the opportunity to paint a small selection of cityscapes, another perk was the number of museums in the city, which allowed him to view masterworks by greats such as John Singer Sargent and a personal favorite, Frank Weston Benson, who was among the first American artists to combine figures with impressionistic landscapes. When Hagege returned to California in 2010, he reminisced about early road trips his family had made to visit his grandmother in Palm Springs. “During those visits, I had fallen in love with the simplicity of the landscapes and the variable qualities of light,” he says. A road trip to Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly with fellow Charles Muench, Mian Situ, and Calvin Liang and additional forays with fellow artist Glenn Dean to paint the imposing red rock structures in Arizona and Utah became the impetus for a major change of direction in Hagege’s subject matter. “I challenge almost anybody to make a road a trip through the desert and come away unchanged,” he says.

ART of the WEST • January/February 2016

Land With No Time, oil, 40˝ by 40˝ “Each time I travel through the Southwest, I feel like time stands still. The land is timeless, especially if you can get deep enough into the desert, where the sound of the highway fades. Time slows, senses strengthen and, with this magnified sensitivity, inspiring visions can be seen at any moment. This piece is now part of the Eiteljorg Museum’s permanent collection.˝

Says Dean, “As Logan learned more about the desert environment, moving from beach scenes to desert settings seemed like a natural progression. As artists, few of us know in the beginning what we will want to say throughout the extent of our career. Just watching him develop and follow his interests, I became witness to a natural evolutionary process, during which he found his true and clear artistic voice.”

For Hagege, that departure not only meant changing from the softer, sunlit atmosphere of the beaches to the harsher desert light, but also moving away from the female figure to the masculine imagery of the cowboys and Native American peoples who lived in this land. “My interest in the desert had its beginning in recording the beauty of the landscapes, but harkening back to my previous training in figurative work, I naturally wanted to complete my paintings by including the people who lived here,” he says. “With this in mind, before I begin a composition I strive to learn as much as possible about the land, the people, and their history. Knowing about these allows me to add more depth to my interpretation.” Although Hagege’s figures primarily are generic in nature, he works with a variety of Native American modJanuary/February 2016 • ART of the WEST 25

Bound to Ramble, oil, 60˝ by 40˝ “Almost every painting I do is a self portrait, in a sense. This particular piece was exhibited at the 2015 Prix de West. I share some of the spirit with the people in my paintings. This is a portrait of a desert rambler, filled with wanderlust and curiosity.”


ART of the WEST • January/February 2016

Mesa Rodeo, oil, 30˝ by 30˝ “The subject of the cowboy on horseback has been painted for about as long as settlers have made their way West. I enjoy the challenge to try to paint this subject with my own sensibilities.”

els. Getting to know them on a personal basis enriches his life, as well as his imagery, and he shares some examples of the growing affinity he feels for his subjects. “The other day I received this big box in the mail from the old San Carlos Apache man, who frequently models for me,” he says. “It contained a hand-painted Apache violin that he had made, a primitive instrument fashioned from a gourd, with just a couple of strings. It is this desire to share cultures that makes what I do special. “Another of the models I use, who

lives in the Santa Fe area, is from the San Filipe Pueblo. After I worked with him for a while, he invited me to come to his pueblo, during one of their feast days. He introduced me to all his family members, and we went to each of their homes to have back-to-back meals. He was so proud of what he was doing and kept telling them, ‘This is my artist’, which really made me feel good.” Yearly road trips to locations throughout the Southwest remain an important element in Hagege’s creative process. Due to time constraints,

he seldom completes paintings on location; however, the photographs he takes, along with his plein air studies, have great value in reminding him of color and light. Currently, approximately 70 percent of the studio paintings he does are figurative; the rest are landscapes. “Sometimes, with my figurative paintings, I use my visual memories for the background, capturing just a sense of the place, as opposed to my pure landscapes, which are generally inspired by a specific location,” he says. Because many of Hagege’s com-

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positions are based on shapes and colors, he refers to his technique as “stylized realism” as opposed to abstract paintings, which are not recognizable. “I try to simplify as far as possible, not overdoing details, but including just enough information so that the viewer knows what I am trying to convey,” he says. Hagege is especially pleased that, after decades of stressing realism, museum shows are now beginning to include more contemporary interpretations of the West. “The art of Remington and Russell has always been the major influence in the world of Western art but, even in the early 1920s, artists were introducing contemporary elements into their work,” he says. “For instance, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Maynard Dixon were representing the West in more modern ways. However, Western art is one of the few genres that has always had, and will continue to have, a strain of realism throughout.” 28

As he matures, camaraderie with other artists is becoming another important aspect in Hagege’s life. During the last decade, he has formed friendships, and participated in joint exhibitions, with two other young painters: Josh Elliott and Glenn Dean. “The greatest benefit from this type of relationship, in addition to being able to travel together and to critique one another’s work, is the lifelong friendships which develop,” Dean says. “In time, they become more like a brotherhood in art. You understand one another based on your common life pursuits.” Looking to the future, one might wonder what lies ahead for an artist, who already has attained such an enviable status in the world of art. Hagege says, “The more you paint, the more you refine things and the more you run into additional problems that need solving.” In his quest for solutions, Hagege has begun to focus on certain com-

ART of the WEST • January/February 2016

It’s a New Life, oil, 34˝ by 50˝ “This painting was done for the 2015 Masters of the American West at the Autry Museum. There are endless ways to paint a particular subject, and I enjoy challenging myself to look deeper into the subjects that I choose to paint. I wouldn’t be able to say everything I have to say about any subject with one or two paintings. This piece is a different take on a series that I have loved working on over the past several years.”

positional elements, most recently clouds. “The reason I am doing this is because I don’t feel like I have done them perfectly yet,” he says. “ Once I have fully explored the possibilities to my satisfaction, I will move on to another element. As an artist, each painting I do involves a unique problem I am trying to solve. It’s this challenge to find solutions that continues to make each day an exciting adventure.” Myrna Zanetell is a writer living in El Paso, Texas.

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