We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Combs and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
One of the hardest questions for me to answer is “where are you from?” I was born in Arizona, raised in Texas, and live in Colorado. In total, I’ve moved about 40 times (which is more than once per year based on my age). I lived in big cities and small towns, suburban and rural. I’ve lived so far out in the sticks that the only way you could watch TV was if you had satellite or VHS movies (cue millennials to ask what a VHS is). I was raised on cattle ranches in Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico. I basically grew up on the back of a horse and could man my own steed by the age of 5. Growing up as a cowboy’s daughter isn’t for the faint of heart and I learned to have a thick, emotionless skin. I have learned two super important things from that type of lifestyle – flexibility and work ethic. Things can change in an instant and if you can’t roll with the punches, then you get left in the dust, often literally! Learning how to work hard and to have integrity for the work you do is where I’ve really shined through the years. I worked hard for my dad’s business all through high school, played on varsity sports teams, was an officer in the Future Farmers of America, was in National Honor Society, and graduated valedictorian. I figured out the financing in order to attend college, worked several jobs while going to school full time, and figured out how to afford living off campus. I was honored to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Colorado State University – being the first in my family to attend college. And to boot, I had a chronic hang over which made things THAT MUCH HARDER.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Equine art isn’t a new thing, in fact, the horse in art has been around since cave paintings and many artists have used them as a way to document or establish visual connections. The classical works of Michelangelo to the modern cubist paintings of Picasso or even the contemporary driftwood assemblages of Deborah Butterfield are all integral to the continued elevation of the equine figure. Artists have moved past making the horse for the sake of showing its beauty and grace and using its unique form as a springboard for visual transcendence. One of the things that has made these artists successful is the unique lens in which they perceive their world and how they translate those ideas into a visual interpretation of their reality. My goal is to continue to move beyond form and function and to document my unique connection to reality using the equine form to encapsulate my emotional experience. My body of work is highly authentic, a genuine, raw connection to my inner being and I believe that is what makes it successful. In a museum you aren’t allowed to touch anything – I encourage the opposite with my pieces. It is when someone has a moment to hold my work in their hands, to feel the weight, to be able to trace the curves with their fingers and turn the piece over to follow the lines, it is then when I know they connect with me emotionally.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Cortez, Colorado which is small-ish town. We are in the heart of the “four corners” region of the United States, a unique place where 4 states literally come together at a legit geographical location – you can actually be in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona all at the same time… which is pretty neat!
Our trip would begin early in the morning before the sun comes up. We would travel through the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation and down into the Navajo Reservation in Arizona to get to Monument Valley with its iconic rock formations. When we are done watching the sun rise and taking photos to our hearts content, we would travel back the way we came and stop at the Four Corners Monument and stand in four states at once… because everyone should do that!
As we pass back through the Navajo Nation toward Cortez we will stop at the Ute Mountain Ute Casino in Towaoc, Colorado for some quick gambling. Back in Cortez we’d stop for breakfast at the Lounging Lizard. Then stroll down the street to Kokopelli’s Bike and Board and find a super sweet mountain bike and head up to Phil’s World for some excellent mountain biking trails. Then we could come back into town and grab some lunch at Thai Cortez. Now that we’ve worked up a sweat we’d need a little pampering at Ivy’s Therapy Center, capping off the day off at Wildedge for some award winning, locally brewed, craft beer.
The next day we could start our trip heading out of town to Dolores which is pretty close, We would stop and get a coffee from Loops, then jet to Telluride. Depending on the time of year, we could ski for half the day or ride the gondola into Telluride from Mountain Village. When we get tired of perusing all the art galleries and other fun businesses in Telluride, we could start making our way back and stop at Dunton Hot Springs for a soak in the natural hot springs. To wind down we would stop in Dolores for locally made hard cider and charcuterie at EsoTerra Cidery.
On day three we would grab a quick burrito from Burger Boy, then take a personal tour of the Anasazi Ruins featured in Mesa Verde National Park. When we get hungry we can head over to Mancos, Colorado for a quick lunch at the Absolute Bakery, then stop into Kilgore American Indian Art, which has the best curated collection of Native American Art and collectibles. Next stop would be to Veryl Goodnight Gallery for a beautiful sculpture or oil painting. We could top off the day with a locally made cider at Fenceline Cidery, and have an exceptional dining experience at Olio’s surrounded by a beautifully curated art collection, ending the night with a stay at the coveted Bauer House Bed and Breakfast.
On day four we would head over the mountains toward Durango, stopping first in Hesperus for a wonderful breakfast at the Kennebec Cafe. We would get into Durango early enough to board the Durango Narrow Gauge Railroad and take a mountain train ride to the old mining town of Silverton. After lots of exploring, we would get lunch at Handlebars Food and Saloon, then get ready to board the train back to Durango. Once we got back, we would check into the Strater Hotel and then enjoy all the galleries and shops on main street. We would stop at the Ore House for dinner, then head back to the Strater for some cocktails at the Diamond Belle Saloon before heading up to bed.
Day five would consist of a guided white water rafting trip on the San Juan River. Maybe a little sushi at East By Southwest, Then head back to Cortez for a show at the Sunflower Theatre and finishing with ice cream from Moose and More around the corner.
The last couple of days I’ve reserved for a Utah trip. Next we would go to Monticello to Moab, Utah to explore the red rock canyons on a guided jeep tour. At the end of the day we’d come back into Moab and eat at the Desert Bistro and find a place to spend the night. The next day we’d get up early, get a quick nibble at the Sweet Cravings Bakery and Bistro and spend the rest of the day hiking Arches National Park. For dinner we would hit up the Antica Forma.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have been lucky to be easily received in my requests to learn as much as I can about the arts. Timothy Nimmo was the individual who had recommended me for the Shoutout Series. Just a few short years ago I remember being nervous to reach out to him to see if he would be willing to meet a little nobody that had a giant crush on his work (seriously, like a giddy schoolgirl). He was so welcoming and hilariously insightful about art in general and all the technicalities of lost wax casting of bronze – plus we both have a mutual appreciation for each other’s twisted sense of humor – www.sacredstag.com – he is a magnificent sculptor and friend!
I continue to sponge up any information Veryl Goodnight is willing to give me because not only is she a dynamite personality, but she is a seasoned veteran badass artist with a mile-long list of achievements and accolades… I hope one day I can be half the woman she is, in all aspects – www.verylgoodnight.com – she is straight-up royalty in the sculpting community, and I still can’t believe she lets me hang out with her!
The Mancos Creative District in Mancos, CO loves inviting me to events, and I am so honored that they keep squeezing me into their hopping little art hub – if you ever have the chance to stop in, the level of art is absolutely world-class, and there are excellent eateries and yummy boozy beverages too! They are sponsoring a new local gem of an event called “Burrofest.” It is a timed obstacle course for burros and their handlers and invited artists get to demonstrate their fine art specialties with the 4-legged athletes – it is seriously a blast! Visit www.
Juliet Harrison of Equis Art Gallery in Red Hook, NY has worked so hard in promoting my work the last few years and I am honored that several of my pieces have made it into the homes of her distinguished equine art aficionados. www.equisart.com
Baer Bronze Fine Art Foundry in Springville, UT has been casting my horses for the last few years and their team has been excellent in all aspects of fine art bronze casting. They have truly been imperative in ensuring my pieces are consistent and timely for all the exhibitions I’ve been juried in to – I can’t thank them enough! www.baerbronze.com for more info about the lost wax bronze casting method (it’s way more steps then you think).
Finally, I’d like to thank my friends and family for putting up with me. It is hard to live with or support an artist – not only are they socially awkward (maybe that’s just me) but they spend all of your hard-earned money on SO many art supplies and services and tools and machines and so many more things art-related. Without my husband I wouldn’t have the strength or the money or time to do what I do. He is my biggest support and my greatest love. It is true that he can be crazy distracting but he doesn’t take it personally when I spend all my free time ignoring him and working on my pieces. He also helps to ensure the kids don’t murder each other when I have my headphones on with my angry metal music playing. I thank him constantly, but I could never truly thank him enough for the beautiful life he has helped our family to achieve.
Other: tiktok – @samcombsfineart
Paul Boyer, Gina Boren