Karin Jacobs

Combining realism painting with western themed toys of the past...a perfect blend of kitsch, memory and painterly skill.

From Karin Jacobs:

Since I was a kid, the American West has held a fascination for me.  Though I grew up in Wisconsin, my dad’s teaching job allowed us to live out west for entire summers where I lived in cowboy hats, watched the ranchers herd sheep down the main streets and dreamed of wild horses appearing around every corner.  Upon returning to the midwest, model horses, books and shiny TV cowboys were my connection to those western dreams.

Fast forward a half century or so and I’m still intrigued by images of the West -- although those former heroes are now covered by a patina of nostalgia and kitsch.  These sensibilities led me to my current group of paintings, inspired by Hartland brand toy horses and riders from the 1950s and ‘60s.  I was initially attracted by how to explore painting the idea of 'plasticity’.  The models, set up against different colored backdrops, hold endless opportunities to explore scale, light, color and shadow.

The larger horse and rider pieces are a sort of double play on scale.  The toys on which the pieces are based are 7” models of full-sized figures, turned around and painted again at almost full size but with none of the life intact.  I find a certain humor in the expressionless faces of the riders though there’s a bit of menace as well when they’re enlarged.