By Steve Weisman
Wow, 12 years can pass by so quickly. Back in 2004, I had the privilege of interviewing the famous Americana and wildlife artist, Terry Redlin. My wife and I actually went to Watertown and spent two hours visiting with Terry, his wife, son and Julie Ranum, the director of the Redlin Art Museum. Having grown up in South Dakota, I guess you could say we had a common bond: love for the beauty of the great outdoors. However, he had the ability to capture those images and bring them to life on canvas.
My wife and I began collecting Redlin prints way back in the late 1970s, and we simply quit, well, because we ran out of wall space. One of our first prints, “Evening Surprise,” took me back to my childhood days on the farm. The print depicts a farmer harvesting the final few rows of a cornfield just at dusk. The sunset is so magnificent, the way only Terry could capture it. Right in front of the combine an explosion of ring-necked pheasants erupts, scattering in every direction. It captures the very memories of my childhood.
That is the way with the Terry Redlin prints. They always capture a story of America’s rural past. For so many of us that is nostalgia at its best.
Then in 2007, I learned that he had retired from painting and from being in the public eye. However, as I learned later it wasn’t by choice. No, he was stricken by dementia.
Now, I learned that Terry Redlin passed away on Sunday, April 24 at the age of 78,
Thankfully, so much of Terry’s artwork has been preserved and placed in the Redlin Art Museum on the outskirts of Watertown, SD. If you have never been there, it is worth the trip.
The museum was actually designed by his son Charles and built by Redlin to repay the state of South Dakota for an art scholarship awarded to him when he was young. The museum displays over 160 of Redlin’s original oils, early childhood sketches and so many newspaper and magazine articles about his career. The museum is open year around for the public at no cost.
It is with great fondness that I remember Terry’s words about his works, “I love to tell stories with my paintings, to remember the experiences of my youth, to imagine events related to me by older folks that I had the privilege of knowing. America’s rural past, in my eyes, was a wonderful place full of both beauty and opportunity. How fortunate I have been to spend my life creating memories of those distant times for others to enjoy. I only hope that my art is worthy of the subject.”
So famous, yet so humble. A man, an artist, I am proud to have known.