Rare sight: Artist Kirby Sattler meeting public
Old Colorado City had a rare Kirby Sattler sighting earlier this month. The artist, most widely known through official Territory Days posters and T-shirts that replicate
his American Indian paintings, gave his first public appearance in 14 years Dec. 5 at the Pine Creek Art Gallery, which has exclusive rights to his original acrylics.
“Nancy [Stovall, Pine Creek owner] enticed me with cookies,” Sattler joked in an interview afterward. Describing himself as a private person, he said he nonetheless enjoyed meeting that evening with scores of people who came by - many of them patiently waiting in line for the opportunity.
His appearance resulted in part from “good timing,” he said, noting that he had already been planning a visit here to see family, and Old Colorado City's First Friday Art Walk presented a good promotional opportunity for himself and the gallery.
Now 58, Sattler grew up in Colorado Springs, graduating from Cheyenne Mountain High School, but lives far away now. He and his wife Bosia (who once owned an Old Colorado City shop called 360 Degrees) are building a house in Mexico, in a small town called Taspa de Allende in the state of Jalisco. He laughed that the only kind of paint brush he's picked up for the last 14 months has been the kind for putting paint on walls.
When he's using artists' brushes, Sattler mainly paints images of American Plains Indians, as they would have looked in the 1800s. Spending weeks at a time on minute details, such as the elements of a headdress or the fraying of a feather or to get colors just right, he typically produces no more than six paintings a year.
He takes pride in having followed his own artistic path. “I started researching Indians as a child,” he said, looking up details about how the Indians of the past looked and lived. All along, he was learning to paint, but in his year studying art at Arizona State University, he felt he was pulled away from what he wanted to do - for example, his style of painting faces close-up, looking straight at you, was not encouraged - and into what others already had done. So he left school. In the years that followed, he often worked day jobs while developing his skills.
Earlier in his career, his paintings could be more easily identified as representing specific Plains Indian tribes, because he was careful to follow certain known details of their appearance. But nowadays, Sattler goes for a more generalized look, which in itself is true to life, he explained. “With all the trading the Plains Indians did, their costuming was very, very individualized. So you can have a large latitude and still be authentic.”
He has been represented by Pine Creek since 1991. “I've always had an interest in the Native American culture,” owner Nancy Stovall said. “There are a few very well known artists that do a great job in depicting the Native American in their natural settings, but I haven't found anyone else that really seems to capture the spiritual side, the strength and pride that Kirby does.”
Sattler's works have been used in 8 of the last 14 annual Territory Days festivals in Old Colorado City.
Westside Pioneer article