Sculptor Dixie Jewett knows horses, of that there is
no question. One has only to admire the precision with
which she captures the nuance of a delicate fetlock or
pastern, and the strength captured in every flank and
withers, to know this is an artist of truly significant
skill. But with Jewett's work, whether an equine sculpture
two feet high or an imposing steed standing twenty hands
high, the surprise is in the artist's medium: junk.
Nine and a half foot tall "Prince",
a model of sophisticated radiance, is composed entirely
of chrome automobile parts. "Stormy Bay's" rusty
brown patina is ¼" steel plates with a conglomeration
of railroad spikes, wrought iron fleur delis and horseshoes
"Sometimes I'll stop work and go out to the stable
and pasture to look at the muscles and proportions," Jewett
says. It is this precision of effort that defines the artist's
work. And it was a singular path that brought her to this
While growing up on a farm
in Montana she knew horses well and always felt a strong
interest in art; but after high school a different love
took center stage. "I always wanted to be an artist,"
she says, "but I was sidetracked by flying." Jewett
spent fourteen years flying seaplanes as air-taxis around
Alaska. The artist still keeps a plane at her local airport
and, in whatever spare time she can find, is rebuilding
When she made her way, at last,
to art she painted, did bronze casting and raku work.
But trying to sculpt with clay, with its lack of strength,
posed a problem; proportions could be a challenge. "You
can't make skinny legs on horses," the artist notes.
Steel, however, did not pose the same difficulty. Jewett
took a class to learn the processes of gas- and wire-feed
welding and began fashioning new materials into smooth-sided
horses until she found the medium that would allow her
to define her true artistic statement. Jewett has now
become a renowned fabrication artist working broken tools,
rusted car parts, farm equipment and myriad odds and
ends together to create her indisputably life-like horse
Typically, Jewett draws her
ideas on the floor first then begins the three-dimensional
work, taking several months to complete each sculpture.
Every one is unique, both in materials and in concept,
with Jewett's painstaking work with forge, torch and
welding rod bringing character to each. The artist lives
on a thirty-four acre Christmas-tree covered property
where three horses and one mule provide constant inspiration.
Her Newfoundland dog accompanies Jewett as she tows a
flatbed with her latest breathtaking horse strapped securely
on its back - towering over the startled highway drivers
lucky enough to encounter this artist while she simply
delivers the latest work to her gallery.