Stephanie Gallegos : Colorado Canyonland Creations
by Mary Daniels
Explaining a few of the sculptures in this series, she says: “Hailstone Marks is a horse with red dots on its flanks. That was a symbol that Crazy Horse used on his horses to give them power and strength and the ferocity of a mighty thunderstorm.”
“Counting Coup” she adds, “has five horizontal stripes on the hindquarters, known as coup marks. Coup was a means of dishonoring and intimidating the adversary by touching them in battle.
“Stolen Ponies has horseshoe marks on it, indicating the number of horse raids the rider had participated in.
“Guardian War Spirit has a handcrafted leather saddle cloth, a shield spear and amulet. No two are alike,” Stephanie says. All sculptures are approximately nine inches in length, and stunning galloping across the wall as a group.
Her goal in creating this series, was “not only to create something bright and colorful, but I wanted people to learn a little about Native American culture. To many people the horse portrays freedom, power and beauty,” she adds. Putting them in a Native American context underscores those qualities.
“I think the Native American and the horse is a great mixture,” she says.
Self-taught, Gallegos says she has been greatly influenced and inspired by a cousin, Mark Hiteshew of San Luis Obispo, California. “He paints, he sculpts, he does a little bit of everything and is incredibly talented,” she says. Others who have inspired her are the renowned Bev Doolittle and Frank Bama.
Born in Carmel, California, in 1965, Gallegos moved to Colorado canyon country when she was three and has been inspired by the landscape and wildlife there ever since. She now lives in Castle Rock. “I go out for walks, looking at nature, wildlife and the things horses do. That keeps me motivated,” she says.
She is an accomplished horsewoman who has delved into all sorts of riding disciplines but fell in love with dressage once she tried it. She has shown in the dressage ring but last fall sold the Dutch Warmblood mare she raised and trained because of the gathering momentum of her art career. “I would have no time to ride,” she explains. She still has part interest with her trainer in another mare.
Gallegos is also a professional race car driver, racing open-wheeled super-modified race cars. “Like Indy cars, no fenders, on asphalt tracks,” she says. She has raced it for about 15 years and that too keeps her creative juices revved.
From whichever direction it comes, Gallegos says she “will get some type of inspiration…sometimes a very specific idea will hit. Then I usually do a sketch and get it on paper.” Next she will begin working in clay, sculpting the image on a flat piece of board. When that is done, she creates a dam around the clay sculpture out of wood or cardboard before pouring a silicone mixture over it. Once that cures, she takes out the clay to produce a mold of that sculpture. She will make multiple pieces off that mold from hydro-stone, a form of plastic containing gypsum cement. After it has dried, it gets varying finishes and is hand painted.
As one can tell from her own descriptions of her work, Gallegos tries to tell a story through it.
“I try to think outside the box and tell stories and do things that other people haven’t done,” she says. She definitely has experimented in different directions and wants to continue to do so. Trying new things also keeps her going. In the past, she has created furniture “which is fun, but has its drawbacks,” has done some wood burning and painting on wood. “Anything that comes to me I’ll try, to see if it can be done,” she says, which has led to her current inspirations.
“Ten years from now, I’d still like to be doing my artwork, but I’d like to move on to working in bronze,” she adds.
The actual creation of her sculptures does not feel like work, “but the business part of it does. I’m like most artists…I just want to create,” she says. “The subject to me is very important, but once I get into it, I do enjoy the creative part of it very much.
“I title my work after I do it. I step back and look at it and let the title come to me.”
She sells mostly wholesale, with the majority of her accounts on the east coast, but she also does art shows all over Colorado.
What does she want people to know about her as an artist? “That I am a normal person that decided to follow my dream. So far it is going very well. I’d like other people to try it. It was a hard decision to quit working a normal job and take the leap. It is something you have to work at and keep at.
“Yes, it makes people happy to know they are going to be remembered for their art. But my message is, hey, go out and do it, rather than hoping people are going to remember me down the road.”
To view more of Stephanie’s wonderful artwork visit: www.cocanyonland.com.