Behind the Artwork

Enjoy these fascinating details about works of art from the Stark Museum of Art collection or special exhibitions.

Written by Stark Museum of Art Curator Sarah Boehme, Ph. D.

Norton’s painting “Two on a Circle” is on view in Gallery 3 of the Stark Museum of Art. Norton became known for his paintings of cowboy and Indian subjects set in evocative western landscapes. He portrayed both contemporary life and the romantic past. Norton was born December 31, 1953 in Price, Utah. He grew up in western towns where he gained experience with ranch chores. He had an early influence in art from his grandfather, an amateur painter.  Norton graduated from Lyman High School in Lyman, Wyoming, and he attended Western Wyoming Community College and Brigham Young University. He studied art in workshops and on his own by viewing works by major artists. The Cowboy Artists of America elected Norton as a membership in 1989. In that organization’s annual exhibitions, he won numerous awards in best overall exhibition and in oil painting. In addition to the Stark Museum of Art, his works are in the collections of the Pearce Museum at Navarro College, Tucson Museum of Art, and other galleries and private collections. He married Pamela Sue Majeska and the couple had four children. He lived and worked with his family in Santaquin, Utah, and he also had a cabin studio in southwestern Wyoming.  Jim C. Norton passed away in Santaquin, Utah, on June 23, 2023.   

Norton’s signature includes a monogram of the letters CA. The monogram identifies his election to membership in the Cowboy Artists of America. The organization’s mission stresses authenticity and connections to the past. It includes goals, “To perpetuate the memory and culture of the Old West as typified by the late Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, and others; To insure authentic representations of the life of the West, as it was and is.” Norton’s subject meets those goals. He painted two cowboys riding in a roundup. The term “circle” in the title refers to their assignment to cover an area.

To see a photograph of the artist and learn more, visit:

image: Jim C. Norton (1953-2023), “Two on a Circle,” 1993, oil on canvas, 20 × 24 inches, Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas, Purchase of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, 2006, 31.262.1, ©Jim C. Norton

Artist Lorentz Kleiser followed a European tradition for the tapestry “The Boar Hunt.” Hunting scenes were fitting subjects to adorn castles and villas. Since ancient times, the boar symbolized a worthy adversary for the hunter. The boar was ferocious and fought back. Kleiser adapted the subject for an early 20th century interior. It provided an image of courage for an American building. The subject continues to have relevance today. Wild pigs provide a challenge to contemporary resource management. Some of these animals descend from Eurasian wild boars. Those boars were introduced in North America for recreational hunting. They sometimes escaped and mated with other feral pigs. They continue as objects for the hunt.

Kleiser was a key figure in reviving the art of tapestry weaving in the United States. Kleiser was born in Elgin, Illinois. When he was five years old, his parents returned to Norway where he then grew up. He apprenticed with a Norwegian mural painter at age 16, and he studied art in Munich, Germany. In 1900, Kleiser returned to the United States. He worked for interior design firms and developed an interest in tapestries. He founded Edgewater Tapestry Looms. The company opened in Edgewater, New Jersey, in 1913.  (Kleiser had made an earlier effort at starting a weaving business.) 

Kleiser’s tapestries served as wall hangings for homes and public buildings. He drew inspiration and techniques from the best examples from the past. His designs often featured subjects from European historic tapestries. Kleiser employed a studio of weavers and other artisans. They hand wove the works on upright looms. The Great Depression hampered business. Edgewater closed in 1933. Kleiser moved to Palos Verdes, California, where he did some tapestry work and easel painting. About 1947, he visited Orange, Texas, and came to know H.J. Lutcher and Nelda Childers Stark. From 1949 to early 1963, Lorentz and his wife Constance lived in Blue Moon Cottage in Shangri La, the Starks’s private garden. There he painted scenes of Shangri La with its wildlife, still life settings of camellias and decorative objects, and portraits. In 1963, the Kleisers returned to New York, where Lorentz passed away. 

image: Lorentz Kleiser (1879 – 1963), artist, Edgewater Tapestry Looms, (c. 1913 – 1933), “The Boar Hunt,” woven wool with vegetable dyes, 50 1/2 × 80 1/2 inches, Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas, Gift of Margaret A. Benckenstein, 2018, 2018.7.1

This almanac published information about Texas. It was useful for business people. The printer also made it to promote immigration to the state. This publication has advertisement for two Orange, Texas firms on its cover.  Lutcher & Moore lumber company and D.R. Wingate’s mill had essays about their companies in the interior of the almanac. 

The essay about the Lutcher & Moore lumber company asserted that it had become a leader of the industry in the state. About the owners (Henry Jacob Lutcher and G. Bedell Moore), the writer stated, “Old Pennsylvania mill men, abundantly endowed with brains, capital and thorough experience, they have introduced features heretofore unknown to Southern lumbermen.” The essay lauded the capacity of the firm’s gang saw for producing quantities of uniform planks. It also noted the company’s manufacture of pickets, “a fencing material heretofore nearly unattainable in Texas by reason of the cost.” The Lutcher & Moore firm had acquired equipment to make “fancy and ornamental pickets.” Their pickets for fences were destined to become an important commodity and “embellish thousands of Texas homes.”

The essay about the mill of D.R. Wingate pointed to the resilience of the owner. He had previously suffered business losses due to “flood and fire.” His new mill is “supplied with every improvement and modern convenience known for the expeditious and economical execution of work.” The author wrote that Wingate is “known and esteemed for his unsullied integrity throughout both Texas and Louisiana.” The essay referred to him as Judge Wingate, due to his service as County Judge for Orange County. 

William Joel Bryan (1852-1882) previously owned this copy of Burke’s Texas Almanac. Bryan was postmaster of Brenham, Texas, appointed by President James A. Garfield. His position as postmaster was probably the reason he owned the almanac. The preface of the publication indicates that a copy was sent to every post office in the state.  Bryan was from a historic Texas family. His great-uncle was Stephen F. Austin. Austin received the name “Father of Texas” for bringing Anglo colonizers to Texas.

image: James Burke, Jr. (1845-1887), editor and publisher, “Burke’s Texas Almanac and Hanford’s Texas State Register,” 1881, paper, bound, 8 X 5 1/2″, Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas, Gift of Nelda C. Stark, 1996, 11.164.1