Tahlequah Daily Press

February 4, 2014

After retiring, sculpting is Lucht’s new ‘job’

Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — When viewing art through the ages, people can learn a lot about history – including clothing styles, landscapes of communities and people who attended events.

They can also discover what paints were made of, what stones were used for creating statues, and even where silver, gold or bronze came from. The elements, like what gemstones or colors are used, can be clues.

When artist Becky Lucht was growing up, she never cared for history – at least not until she starting taking art history classes in college.

“Then suddenly, everything began to have a context for me,” said Lucht.

For Lucht, artists are like historians, interpreting cultural change, events and emotions and helping articulate the collective thinking of each era.

“And I think that’s an important job,” Lucht said. “I used to think I was driven to make art because I wanted to leave something tangible behind, but now I think it’s just part of who I am.”

About a year ago, Lucht retired from the Muskogee Phoenix as the advertising director, and was formerly the marketing director.

“I think it’s tough to make it [as an artist]. You really have to have a strong drive and work ethic and confidence in yourself and talent,” she said.

Currently she’s concentrating on soapstone sculptures and watercolors, but she’s pretty much dabbled in everything.

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve been making art. I know I hated coloring books and trying to ‘stay in the lines.’ I always wanted to draw my own pictures,” she said.

Her artistic expression was influenced by growing up in the rural community of Garner, Iowa.

“The rural, bucolic Iowa scenery shows up in my color palette, which tends toward the earthy colors, and perhaps my tendency to revert to livestock when I can’t think of anything else to paint,” she said.

After she graduated from the University of Minnesota, Mankato, with a degree in art, her plan to be a teacher was soon diverted.

“I discovered that wasn’t really my calling. I was more attracted to commercial art and graphic design, then to marketing,” said Lucht.

In her past artistic endeavors, she has especially enjoyed bronze-casting, silver-smithing and stained glass, in addition to painting. Inspiration comes from nature and other artists.

“I’ve been obsessed with horses my entire life” she said. “I started drawing horses in third or fourth grade with enough success that my friends said I should be an artist. From such humble beginnings, the seed was planted.”

As life cycles around, she seems to be in a horsey phase now.

“I really like doing architectural type paintings, and hope to get back to that soon,” she said. “And I love doing paintings with a little surrealism.”

In addition to sculpture, Lucht is planning a series of paintings and photos of small-town Oklahoma.

“I love looking at small houses in small towns and imagining the stories they tell,” she said.

Art reflects the era in which it is created. For Lucht, some of the cutting-edge work right now can be pretty bizarre.

“Perhaps it’s because we are in such a period of transition, with the electronic world pushing the explosion of available information in the world exponentially. I think it’s a reflection of information overload and uncertainty,” she said.

After retiring last year, Lucht said she’s been frenetic, like a kid let out of school, joining things and saying “yes” to everything she could.

“I was so excited to finally have time to follow my heart and couldn’t wait to get back into my art. Then I realized I had ‘painting reluctance,’ and was having a hard time even starting a painting, because I was feeling so rusty,” she said.

But soapstone sculpture, a three-dimensional form, helped get her started again.

“Then, for some reason, I thought it would be good to paint some cows, despite my obvious horse bias,” she said. “Cows just don’t seem to have as much soul, so my thinking was I wouldn’t have to try to capture more than the moment with them. Horses are so beautiful and soulful, I just wasn’t ready to try them.”

Stone sculpture is pretty physical, according to Lucht.

“It’s not overly forgiving if you mess up, but I’m learning the importance of getting the basics right, symmetrical where they should be, and patience,” she said. “Jim [Roaix] is great. He encourages you to do your own thing but is always there with an answer when you need him.”

There is a rhythm to sculpture that she loves.

“I find myself getting into a zone when I’m working on a piece, which is very hypnotic. I also love the serendipity of the finishing part of a project when the grain and color of the stone is finally revealed and the ugly duckling turns into the swan,” said Lucht.

She and husband Darrell Lucht have two grown children, Heather Lopez of Oklahoma City and Dylan Lucht of Fort Gibson, and six grandchildren.

She serves on a few boards, is working on a master gardener certification and avidly competes in long-distance trail riding with the North American Trail Riding Conference with her Missouri fox trotter, “Tango.”