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 Michael Hurd  (1946 - )

About: Michael Hurd
 

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/California      Known for: landscape and portrait painting

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Michael Hurd
An example of work by Michael Hurd
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:

A New Mexico artist, Michael is the youngest son of artists Peter Hurd (1904-1987) and Henriette Wyeth Hurd (1907-1997), and is part of a long line of Wyeth artists.

Michael’s grandfather was noted illustrator N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945), and it was while Peter Hurd was studying art as N.C.’s private pupil in Chadd’s Ford, Pennsylvania, that his met and fell in love with Henriette, the daughter of his teacher.  Painting dominated Michael’s family environment and his parents' lives when he was growing up, -sometimes Michael posed as a subject for his mother’s paintings- but he was never encouraged to study art.

Instead his father, knowing the difficulty of art as a career, encouraged Michael to pursue a business career. Following four years of high school studies at a boarding school in Massachusetts, Michael graduated from Stanford University and went on to a Chicago business school . He worked briefly in real estate in that city, but soon was drawn back to art, and returned to New Mexico in the mid-1970s.

His father then encouraged him to run the 2,500 acre family ranch, and strongly discouraged his pursuit of painting, but Michael began to accompany him when he went out painting. Without mentioning it to his father, Michael began painting on his own, and a breakthrough happened one day when his mother shared with her husband a portrait Michael had done of a neighbor. Peter was highly impressed with the unidentified work, and when he realized it was Michael’s it led to the barriers coming down. From that time on Peter Hurd was a supporter of his son’s art career. Michael pursued art studies at New Mexico State University, and the memorable portrait of the neighbor is now owned by the Roswell Museum.

His artist mother became a mentor and teacher to him, and by his early twenties Michael was painting seriously in oil, and by 1995 was named New Mexico’s Distinguished Artist of the Year. As his parents did before him, Michael lives and works on Sentinel Ranch near San Patricio, located in the Hondo Valley of Southeastern New Mexico, at the foot of the Capitan Mountains, -land of the legendary Billy the Kid. His business background has been helpful to him in the running of the ranch operations and overseeing its multiple outbuildings. The greenhouse on the ranch grew the flowers that Henriette painted in her still lifes. Michael paints in the studio that once was his father’s, and there a visitor might notice books on international artists, from Vermeer, to Breughel, to Velasquez. Henriette’s studio, located next to that of Peter Hurd/now Michael’s, remains unused since her death.

Michael works from reality, as have all the Wyeth and Hurd painters, and believes the actual subject must be experienced if it is to be accurately conveyed in a painting. He likes "…to leave open ends, nuances, even ambiguities for the viewer to resolve.” The influence of the still life compositions of his mother and landscape scenes of his father are evident in Michael's work, but although he does not deny his heritage or the effect it has had on his work, Michael acknowledges it is particularly satisfying when someone who is unaware of his identity or background notices his work.

Today, visitors to the Sentinel Ranch are able to visit the Hurd La Rinconada Gallery and view work by many generations of the family: N.C. Wyeth, Michael's grandfather;  Andrew Wyeth (1917- ) Michael's uncle; Peter Hurd, Michael's father; his mother Henriette Wyeth Hurd, and Michael Hurd's own work.

Credit for the above information is given to: wyethartists.com; findarticles.com


Biography from Nedra Matteucci Galleries:
Given Michael Hurd’s family background, one might think he came easily to his success as an artist.  However, Hurd dodged his artistic calling until he was almost 30 years of age.  Hurd is the grandson of the famous illustrator and painter, N.C. Wyeth, and son of painters, Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth.  He grew up on his family's Sentinel Ranch in southern New Mexico.  The youngest of three siblings, Hurd was encouraged by his mother in his early artistic adventuring, but his more pragmatic father steered Hurd into pursuing a business-oriented education.  In fact, before entering college, Hurd became responsible for running the business and daily operations at the ranch.  Throughout his college years at Stanford University, Hurd studied business and political science, taking a few art classes along the way.  After he graduated, his creative side emerged in the form of music.  He played the guitar, touring for a few years with the New Kingston Trio.  Later, Hurd worked for a time in industrial development.

It was Hurd’s frequent car trips from California to New Mexico that helped him to at last assume the mantel of his artistic heritage. The immense size and variety of the landscape along that often-traveled route prompted Hurd to try to capture its feeling of mid-century New Mexico, rapidly disappearing under the area's more contemporary development.  As a result, Hurd found the inner drive to begin working seriously as a painter.

His oils and watercolors convey a wonderful sense of place, time and mood. Looking at his work, one can see echoes of the Wyeth and Hurd families in his landscape compositions and use of color. Only echoes exist, however, since Hurd’s style is distinctly his own.  His work is always fresh and inviting.  As he puts it: “Landscapes and portraiture offer endless sources of material.  In each painting I’m attempting to artistically resolve a particular challenge I’ve found in the reality of a scene or face.”

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