Inspiration drives Netherwood's art
Behind my inspiration is my fervent desire to show the beauty, the drama, the excitement of the people, the places, and the many animals that inhabit our fantastic Western America.” Joe Netherwood, Western Artist.
Local artist Joe Netherwood’s creative roots took anchor in his boyhood home of Richmond, Virginia. His parents and elementary teachers were the first to recognize the keen eye and quick imagination of their young charge. But, Joe credits his biggest influence to his high school art and mechanical drawing teacher, Mr. Bernard Davis. Joe was mesmerized with Mr.
Davis’s meticulously detailed pen and ink drawings of historic colonial buildings of Williamsburg and Yorktown, Virginia. Joe also drew inspiration from two other ‘greats’ in the illustration field, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Rick Griffin. Somehow Joe knew he was destined to do something in the world of art, but he also had to make a living.
After completing a stint in the U.S. Air Force, Joe returned to Richmond to begin his freelance illustration career it wasn’t long before he landed a job with Allied Chemical as a draftsman. During a business trip to Philadelphia he met his future wife Stephanie, and as the wind blows they married Joe moved to Philadelphia finding himself, once again, “hitting the streets in search of freelance illustration work, but this time it was in the much larger market of Philly.” He soon landed a job as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer with Lippincott Publishing as a day job.
About this time he decided to revisit an interest he had developed years earlier in comedy. Philadelphia had an active comedy club scene in the mid-Eighties prompting Joe to attend open mikes to hone his skills. His efforts paid off. Joe landed a second job at one of the clubs doing improv. These gigs lead Joe to the Comedy Stop At The Trop, Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City. Joe entered a comedy competition where he and a guy by the name of Ray Romano (of Everybody Loves Raymond TV fame) met wit-to-wit in the finals. Joe recalled, “I lost to some young upstart named Ray Romano, wonder whatever happened to him?” About this time, at the ripe old age of 43, Joe decided that if he was ever going to make a career in the fine arts, now would be the time to get moving in that direction.
In 1990, he took a trip to the Brandywine River Museum to see the show “N.C. Wyeth’s Wild West.” The show was composed of Wyeth’s illustrations done in the early part of the 20th century. The selection was from a trip Wyeth made west to work on a ranch and stagecoach company. This show shed light on a new direction in Joe’s artistic expression. He began studying the works of the Brandywine School artists and other classic American illustrators of the time, gradually his illustrations evolved into painting techniques.
A few years into this new medium, Joe was accepted into the Phippen Museum Memorial Day Art Show. It was the first show he had applied to and he didn’t expect to be accepted on the first try. After all, he was still living in Philadelphia.
Destiny presented Joe with an opportunity for a trip west, in the hoofprints of his hero N.C. Wyeth, but times had changed, Joe loaded up his Honda Civic with paintings, framework for display, a tent, a few clothes and headed west for the first time.
During his visit Joe grabbed a chance to explore the territory, following the siren’s song of “Arizona Fever” a condition outsiders just can’t seem to shake. Their yearning only eased when they find themselves marooned on the rocks of the great Sonoran Desert. Later that year Joe would bring Stephanie back to Arizona and, to his delight, she caught the fever as well! We say, “The rest is history.”
Today, Joe Netherwood works from his “beautiful home studio with a large bay window ushering in that magical north light.” The space also contains several bookcases stuffed with art books, an antique golden oak back bar and dozens of his western and advertising collectibles, all subjects for past, present and future works.
Joe continues to enjoy a supportive relationship with the Phippen Museum in Prescott. Aug. 3-Sept. 22, 2019 he will have work in its “Hold Your Horses” annual show.
Aug. 8, 9, and 10, he will be in Prescott for the 32nd Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering at Yavapai College Performing Arts Center. He is the poster artist for this year’s event, and will be signing posters for visitors to purchase. View a wide selection of Joe’s work, keep up with his exhibit schedule or schedule a visit to his studio at www.joenetherwood.com.
Contact Arts Columnist Shea Stanfield on firstname.lastname@example.org.