AN APPRECIATION

by JOHN P. SIMONI

Wichita State University Art Professor

Estes Park, Colo.-For the 50th Jubilee of an artist's career, an appropriately designed parchment scroll reads: "Let it hereby be known to all men that the State of Colorado, the Town of Estes Park, and the Rocky Mountain National Park on this 20th day of June, 1965, do honor David Stirling, Doctor of Fine Arts, Doctor of Aesthetics, Youngest of the Old Masters, on his 50th anniversary as a famous and renowned Colorado artist. For service to his country, state and community-having represented the beauty and glory of Colorado through his paintings to the people of the world. In appreciation we here set our hand and seal." It is signed by John A. Love, Governor of Colorado; Clarence A. Graves, Mayor of Estes Park; Granville B. Liles, Superintendent at Rocky Mountain National Park; and Pearl W. McMurry, Mayor of Corydon, Iowa, the artist's birthplace.

DAVE STIRLING, born jn 1887, official resident artist of Rocky Mountain National Park, opened his studio and gallery here in 1915. He celebrated five decades of work in conjunction with the Park's 50th anniversary. Greig Steiner joined him in 1962 as associate artist.

I first met Dave in 1933 at tile opening of an exhibition of his canvases at Greeley, Colo. These were beginning years for the American Scene painters. Stirling's landscapes express the atmosphere of the Rockies. They possess an expressionistic warmth represented with the vibrant and moving color forming the life of nature. Dave emphasizes color rather than form.

But he sees and uses the significance of the abstract in the designing of his pictures.

Two of his recent paintings of the Colorado peaks, created in a mood evocative of profound emotive responses to the majesty of earth and space, recently were reproduced in full-size prints by Western Lithograph of Wichita. They contain all of the nuances of Stirling's wonderful color. His paintings express the poetic nature of the artist.

IT WAS IN 1910 that Dave Stirling sold his first painting. He keeps the large $5 bill framed. He started painting when tile artist in America was not the most revered individual. But he made art his life's work with profit and recognition for the excellence of his work.

The Midwest admires his canvases and his philosophy. In our state, Kansas Wesleyan University honored him in 1953 with the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts. Sterling College gave him the honorary Doctor of Aesthetics degree in 1957. Many Kansans own and enjoy a Stirling painting.

His landscapes are painted in a spirit of romantic sentiment. He forms them with rapid and free spontaneity, creating the total experiencing of forests and skies. "The important thing in painting is color," he says, and adds his daily "cultural lectures" on art to the 100 or more visitors to his gallery: "The successful painter is particularly sensitive to the qualities of color in their relationship: light against dark, warm against cool and soft against strong." He captures literal and at times lyrical forms as he views the Colorado hills.

"ART IS LONG and Time is Fleeting" is the portrait of Dave Stirling in his studio painted by his associate, Greig Steiner, in 1963. Steiner is the innovator and experimenter. He depicts the Rocky Mountain landscape with the eye of the dramatist. He was stage designer, dancer and man of the theater before his association with the "Youngest of the Old Masters," as Stirling is called by his admirers.

Steiner is interested in the dramatic impact that form creates in its qualities of brightness and delineation. He has invented means to increase the luminosity and transparency of color by way of filtered and subtracted light. He emphasizes the poetic content as perceived in experiencing nature's life. His figured paintings are presentational of profound feeling for the human content of life. He creates a dynamic formal order to project forces expressive of life's contrasts as seen in man and nature.

The major tendency in the Stirling and Steiner painting styles is liberal representation richly interpreted to portray ideas and environment with freedom.