Landscapes: An Interview with Herb Weigand

By Crystal Swartz

Dr. Herbert Weigand reveals an intriguing cultural journey through his “From Dublin to Durango” art exhibit at Madelon Powers Art Gallery.  Weigand’s contrasting collection of landscape paintings traverses from Ireland’s countryside to Colorado’s cliff dwellings.  The majority of the pieces show the intricate layers of deserted Pueblo Indian structures that echo an elegiac spirit.  But a handful of Weigand’s rich, rolling landscapes of Glendalough, Ireland adds a quenching stir to the collection.  The physical variances between the Durango and Dublin works fuse the artist’s theme of abandonment.  All of the landscapes represent areas of Ireland and Colorado that are desolate and in ruins.  At the art exhibit, Weigand includes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a History Channel video titled Mystery of the Anasazi, and a historical collage about the culture of Mesa Verde.

Inside the Fine and Performing Arts Center on the ground floor, Dr. Weigand teaches his class of art students in an airy gallery workroom.  Easels, paint, and canvases replace the conventional classroom makeup of desks, blackboards, and books.  The rectangular windows that line the far wall of the room add to the open and imaginative environment.  A radio station plays rock and roll music, student artists create, and Dr. Weigand discusses his “From Dublin to Durango” art exhibit.

Crystal Swartz:  Can you tell me about the inspiration behind your From Dublin to Durango exhibit?

Herbert Weigand:  I was on sabbatical last year.  I decided to do a series of landscapes, mostly because I hadn’t done landscapes that much before.  Most of my older paintings are of human figures, some with a little landscape in the background.  But the landscapes weren’t the primary subjects.  I wanted to challenge myself.  It’s always good to do that.  I had some relatives in Ireland, so I went over there to visit them and painted some landscapes while I was there.

In terms of Colorado, I was always interested in the cliff dwellings that were built about a thousand years ago.  Those cliffs, where people built these houses in, and now they’re all gone.

CS:  How would you describe your artistic style?

HW:  I do work in different styles.  They’re always in series.  I wouldn’t have abstract figures in with landscapes in the same exhibition.  I stick with a certain aesthetic territory.

CS:  Do you prefer oil paint or watercolors as your medium?

HW:  I’m mostly an oil painter.  In the “From Dublin to Durango” collection, there are eleven oils and four watercolors.

CS:  How did you decide on the positioning of the pieces?

HW:  I hung the show.  First, I was thinking about separating them, with all the Irish ones on one side.  But the Colorado pieces are all sort of brown, kind of monochrome.  I laid them out on the floor first.  I decided it was better with the more colorful ones with monochrome ones.

CS:  The United Nations Declaration for Indigenous is

HW:  In my lifetime, I have been on three Native American reservations.  I’ve visited the Sioux, Apache, and Navajo reservations.  One of the things that struck me was the sheer poverty.  I was reading a local newspaper and there was an article about indigenous people, not just Native Americans, but also the natives of South Africa and Aborigines of Australia.  The article was about giving them some basic human rights so they can lead more prosperous lives.  I wanted to include it the show.  The United States is apparently the only major country not enforcing it.  It seems pretty hypocritical to me that we always get this sort of constant barrage that we’re the land of democracy, the land of opportunity, and the people that lived here the first really live in terrible situations.

Dr. Herbert Weigand’s collection “From Dublin to Durango” continues through November 22 at the Madelon Powers Gallery, Fine and Performing Arts Center, East Stroudsburg University.