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City Boy Interviews Painter Anders Stone
By Lesse Mullins,

Anders Stone

As I pull out on to highway 405 south out of Santa Monica, I start thinking about the life I live and that of my subject/host, portrait artist Anders Stone.  The traffic is mind bending, as always, and the glare from the early morning sun is magnified by the ever-present Los Angeles smog layer. My destination is a small ranch outside of Tecate, Mexico, just south of San Diego, California, where Stone lives and paints.  Stone doesn’t hide his disdain for modern, fast-paced, First World society. He refuses to drive a car and uses his horse to run errands.  I will admit that part of the reason I agreed to take on this assignment was that I knew Stone to be a first class beer and wine maker from the art openings of his that I have attended.  Yes, I want to talk about art and the how and why, but really, how does one make such an incredible glass of beer from scratch?

After roughly three and a half hours I pull on to Mr. Stone’s road.  A small winding affair with very few neighbors, unless you count the feral dogs running around, or were they coyotes? Yes, I am from the city.

The first thing I see as I drive through the entrance gates to the ranch is a beautiful brown and white “paint” horse (how poetic) corralled in front of the house and a vicious looking dog named Blackie (oddly enough, red in color) that actually turned out to be a sweetheart.

Since Mr. Stone doesn’t have a telephone, I had been corresponding with his agent to get this interview.  She assured me that he would be expecting me.  And expecting me he was.  Out on the veranda was a full table set with     
pastries, fresh breads and coffee.  As I later found out, this was called 3 o’clock coffee and really had nothing to do with my arrival.  But a more gracious host one could not ask for.  Mr. Stone was pulling out more regional delicacies than I knew possible once I expressed my foodie leanings. I can’t believe I ate goat.

The first hour was all about the food and how “coffee is the great equalizer” and that taste is more acute outdoors.  Only after considerable caloric intake was Stone willing to talk about his art.

For a man who makes his living by living his creativity, he seems much more interested in discussing the virtues of the local horse bit maker and boot repairman.  But I later came to realize that this is his art, or at least one of its main components.


LM:  So why did you choose to live in Mexico?
Stone:  Back in the States, this type of living was probably possible once upon a time, but not now. The pace is just too fast and expectations are much too high.

LM:  How has living here affected what you paint?
Stone: You are what you eat.  You paint what you are.  It’s all encompassing. 

LM:  Do you get along with the locals?
Stone:  Very much so.  One of the few places I know where the people don’t mind you mangling their language.   Try that in France!

LM:  Not to be presumptuous, but I can’t imagine that they could afford to buy any of your work.
Stone:  Why?  I had a funny conversation with a painter friend of mine in the States some years ago.  He was complaining that his friends couldn’t afford to buy his work.  That’s as big a pile of it as I had ever heard.  It is up to you.  Bartering has been one of my great pleasures in life, no joke. My favorite pair of spurs came from Gaylord Parks, the best horseman I ever knew.  I admired his old pair of North and Judds [spurs], and he didn’t mind a painting of him cutting cattle; we were both happy.  That nice, big, Charro saddle over there, was made by a local who fitted it to my horse.  And while we’re at it, the horse was a trade too.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

LM:  Do you really use your horse as your main transportation?
Stone:  Absolutely.  The car is not your friend, but your mount certainly can be.  There’s an old saying I like, “no time is wasted that’s in the saddle,” or something like that.  I was using my horse as transportation when we were living in the States as well.  The post office, Home Depot (the cart bins make for a great hitching rail), and even the local coffee shop.  I had done some research and in California, the horse is legal to go ANYWHERE a car can go, except a freeway.  That meant right down Main Street if you so wanted.  And no, you don’t have to pickup after it.  I don’t know why more people aren’t doing it.  Unfortunately, I do have a truck that I need for transporting paintings and feed.

LM:  You now have a young child.  How has that affected you?
Stone:  One can’t help but get a bit reflective I guess, or is that a bit of sentimentality we’re talking about.  I would have to say though that one probably starts to evaluate their surroundings a bit more and tries to figure out if this is the best place for a kid.  I never used to care before.

Anders Stone at his ranch Blackie, Royal, Shata, Stone with new work.

LM:  Your studio is quite impressive.  Did you have it built?
Stone:  No.  it’s just a big old room, probably an annex or a spare bedroom wing sort of thing. Buildings down here seem to take on a life of their own after a while.  Yeah, the windows are great, and my horse is right out there, where I can see her, and the hitching rail is out this door to the side [Stone motions out past the patio that surrounds his workspace on three sides].

LM:  Do you see yourself staying down here indefinitely, or possibly ever moving back to the United States?
Stone:  I don’t know where “next” is, but Mexico has gotten a bit wild lately.  So a change might be in the cards.

LM:  I see you have a nice vineyard growing here.  This is the source of your wine grapes?
Stone:  Isn’t that fun?  Yes, that’s the source of my sometimes tasty, often lousy plonk.

LM:  Any thoughts about doing it commercially?
Stone:  No way.  A man has got to know his limitations…  thanks Clint [referring to Clint Eastwood].

LM:  I get the feeling that you prefer discussing the ways of rural life than you do discussing your art.
Stone:  I wouldn’t say that.  I like it all.  Often people get categorized by their work, when in my opinion, it’s just a part of who someone is.  Otherwise life would be pretty boring.

And with that we shared a tequila/coffee that Mr. Stone assured me would not affect my driving skills.  He did, however, invite me to stay for the night, if I was feeling at all sluggish.  He explained that “out here it’s more common than not for guests to spend a couple of days after making such a long journey.”

Those words kept ringing in my head as I was making my way north on the 405 towards Orange County and the glistening lights of commuter traffic.  That “long journey” is just a regular day in my modern, fast-paced, First World life.




Western Heritage Awards Announce Honorees

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City will induct four individuals into their halls of fame and will present a fifth major award to baseball legend and rancher/beef producer Nolan Ryan when the Western Heritage Awards gala takes place April 18.

Not all winners’ names were released at press time, but the most recent announcement is that the theatrical film Appaloosa won for Best Western Film.

Texas rancher Anne W. Marion will be inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners, along with the late historian Frederick Jackson Turner. Motion picture actors Morgan Woodward and the late Dub Taylor are this year’s inductees into the Hall of Great Western Entertainers. Nolan Ryan is to be the recipient of the Chester A. Reynolds Award.

“This promises to be an exciting year,” said Shayla Simpson, the museum’s public relations director. “Buck Taylor [recent past inductee and son of Dub Taylor] is probably more excited for his father’s induction than he was for his own. Morgan Woodward is excited too. Add to that Nolan Ryan’s award, and we’re expecting a good turnout.”

For more information, visit www.nationalcowboymuseum.org.






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