The fabulous newly-renovated space at 154 E. Front Street is filled with tooled leather paintings, pedestals of Native American style carved pottery and huge breathtaking photographs of pueblo doorways and red rock canyons, all of which speak of the gallerys owners, John Evans and Lance Forneys, love and respect of the West.
But no spurs and chaps are necessary! This former Southwestern duo has roped in some regional and local artists.
An experienced art show producer, Evans organized popular art festivals in California and Arizona. At Sedonas Southwest Red Rock Fine Art And Wine Festival, he coupled world-renowned a rtists with the Phoenix Symphony for more than a decade. Gregarious and multi-talented, Evans also writes poetry and creates handmade paper sculptures.
Lance Forney, the Pied Piper of the duo, enchants guests with his talents as a photographer, musician and host. Inbetween greeting patrons at receptions, Forney has been known to take time out to converse with local musicians and cant resist picking up a guitar.
A natural beguiling spirit, Forney switched to full-time photography after a number of lucrative careers. His large Southwestern landscapes are intense and caring exercises in sensibility. Fusing documentary, anticipation and expression, his photographs succeed as art in a time-space continuum.
Forney expresses space (both natural or architectural) with a focused concentration, creating photographs beyond prettiness or trends -- studiously celebrating form.
In addition to their respective talents, the Evans Forney Gallery owners have sought out artists from all over the country.
Midwest audiences may not be accustomed to paintings and sculptures of horses, lariats, cowhands and Indians as having wide acclaim.
Yet after living and working in the Southwest, the EF partners have chosen to showcase a number of Western artists. They know that collectors value the heritage of the frontier and that for decades, names like Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell have been briskly purchased for millions.
Followed by phenomenal talents like Georgia OKeefe and Hudson River School painters who journeyed west, the value of Western artists was raised to the level of their East Coast peers in the last century. Today, major museum shows continue to bring attention and academic interest to the work of Western artists. Buyers of Western art are geographically diverse and a consistent number of people purchase a piece of American history each year to display in their homes.
REGIONAL ART FOCUS
Only New York City outsells Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico for the dollar value of American art sold. John Evans and Lance Forney would like to see northwestern Michigan become a famous spot for collectors and tourists to find and purchase American art, from every region of the country. The concept behind their gallery is to bring people together in a warm, friendly atmosphere and offer a wide variety of media, styles and prices.
New to Evans Forney Gallery is Eric Strauss, a nationally established stainless steel sculptor, who creates for the viewers desire to touch. Working from his mountaintop studio in north Georgia, the mini-metal man constructs subjects that he has dreamed, imagined or experienced. His linear equine pieces are a result of his childhood experiences growing up on a farm. His mixed metal pieces are studies in textural contrast merging environmental/outer/nature with highly polished abstract shapes. His one-of-a-kind furniture pieces are futuristic sculptures without rules and boundaries.
Award-winning local artist Chick Powers creates carved wood metaphors, some representing real items (such as coats or hats), a unique skull series and exemplary figurative work concerning the underlying struggle of human endeavor. There is a reminiscent beauty and reverence to Georgia OKeefe in his skull series. His meticulous craftsmanship of wood is apparent in his mimic/object forms. And the addition of metal to his dynamic figures accentuates the grace and sometimes pain of human struggles. His wood sculptures require a double-take.
Shirley McWorter-Moss, a former math and aeronautical engineering teacher, retired a decade ago to follow her artistic dream of becoming a sculptress. The Anaheim, California artist has recently showcased her work at the Loveland Sculpture Invitational in Colorado. The majority of her work is figurative, with an emphasis on the virtuoso. Her piece entitled Oracles has that spellbinding quality.
The former Cleveland native tries to breathe life into her subjects. Much of her work has a monumental quality of a conventionally trained sculptor, but with delightful underpinnings of depth, balance, and rhythm.
Each gallery in the area has its own ambiance and reputation, but the sculptural work is particularly strong in the latest gallery to enhance Front Street. If you are looking for art that competes national galleries, you may be delightfully surprised by this gallery and by the growing selection of new galleries in the Grand Traverse Bay region. And dont mind that compulsive adventurer that greets you at the Evans Forney Fine Arts gallery door: Lance just wants to be your unofficial ambassador to some exceptional local, regional and American art.