Equine 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.
“Stormy Bay’s” rusty brown patina is ¼” steel plates with a conglomeration of railroad spikes, wrought iron fleur delis and horseshoes added. “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 point.
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 another.
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 sculptures.
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.