Herb Mignery, CA
The American cowboy is described by historians as a person of simple tastes and few possessions. Herb Mignery fit this description in 1963 when he left the U.S. Army carrying his only belongings—a guitar and a saddle—bent on becoming an artist. Herb was raised on the Mignery ranch near Bartlett, Nebraska. The Mignery clan had made their living by ranching for 110 years and it was naturally assumed that Herb would continue in that tradition. As it turned out, he did, but with a special twist to the tale. He is indeed a great cowboy, but is also a talented sculptor of character types of the historic West.
It was on that day in 1963 when he left the army that he decided not to return to ranching but rather to enter the art world. Mignery put to use the drawing skill he developed during his off hours on the ranch when he become an illustrator in the army, which in turn qualified him for positions in the commercial art world. After several years of intensive work he left the security of a paycheck and plunged into the world of fine art, devoting himself to portraying the ranch life he knew so well.
Mignery has worked in a variety of mediums, but in 1973, just ten years after returning to civilian life, he cast his first bronze. He decided then that sculpture would be his field, and bronze his medium. Since that time he has executed numerous small works and monuments which are to be found in both public and private collections across the nation.
Herb’s subjects often depict the difficult lives of the people of the west have led. The figures have a certain elegance and sense of classical composure in spite of the fact that they are not idealized. Farmers and ranchers have large, rough hands that have seen many hours of labor, and weathered but friendly faces. Details and accoutrement tells us about the subjects, their profession, and their lives, so that each sculpture completes a piece of the story of life in the West. The beauty of imperfections is what we see, for it is the imperfections that reveal the hidden tales of the figures’ lives.
Source: Herb Mignery
Coyotes Past – Old Dogs Future
Artist: Herb Mignery, CADescription: Bronze (1987) | 11”h x 7”w x 7”d; Edition #10 of 20
In this bronze, Cowboy Artists of America Emeritus Member, Herb Mignery, shows his skill at depicting true to life western characters. And he uses an unusual style of modeling that effectively utilizes negative space to present a compelling image.
Artist: Herb Mignery, CADescription: Bronze | Dimensions: 24”h x 24”w; Edition #8 of 12
Herb Mignery’s family ranched for over one hundred years near Bartlett, Nebraska. It’s not a wonder as to where his comfort lies … the Great Plains were his backyard. With pencil in hand, Herb started drawing horses and cowboys at a very early age. In college, he was a cartoonist for the school newspaper. And while serving in the Army, he was an illustrator for two years. Upon his discharge, whatever freelance work came his way, he took it. And after casting his first bronze in 1973, Herb then devoted himself full time to his craft. His roots are very evident in his work. “Some artists prefer to convey historical moments that are perceived to be glorious. However, I believe the more basic, the more personal, the more humble the story, the greater it is. To me there is much beauty in those moments.”
And in this bronzed beautiful moment “Seventy Winters” each of us may interpret it uniquely …. Is the old warrior quietly contemplating life? Is he merely seeking solitude? Has all he held dear been taken away and he wanders? Art invokes different responses within each of us. What’s your interpretation of this beautiful moment?
Mignery has a particular talent for capturing a distinct personality in bronze through details such as the blanket held close against the winter chill. Many of his figures like this one, represent both one individual, but also stand as symbols for a whole group.
Artist: Herb Mignery, CADescription: Bronze (2001) | 15 ½”h x 13.5”w x 8”d; Edition #8 of 20
One of Herb Mignery’s great talents as a sculptor is his ability to create great empathy with his characters. He imbues his figures with a sense of humanity and individual personalities. The rider in this sculpture, who appears to be carrying the sum total of all his possessions, has the look and feel of a real person. Mignery has created a memorable individual who is highly relatable. We can only wonder who this person is hunted by and for what reason. As he looks warily over his shoulder, his hand reaches toward his rifle—that small gesture speaks volumes and tells us much about who this person is. “The Hunted” won the gold medal in sculpture at the 36th Annual Cowboy Artists of America Exhibition & Sale in 2001.