The youngest son of artists Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth-Hurd, Michael Hurd was born to a long line of talented painters. He has preserved his family’s artistic heritage both through his own paintings and through his careful preservation of Sentinel Ranch, the Wyeth-Hurd family home. For this twofold achievement, Michael Hurd was presented with the prestigious Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts for 2016.
Born in New Mexico, Michael grew up on the ranch side by side with the same ranching families so often depicted in his parents’ paintings. He first left the valley to attend school, first in Massachusetts and at later at Stanford. But these years in the city only convinced him he belonged back in the Hondo Valley of New Mexico. He happily returned to his native home in San Patricio, where he began honing his artistic abilities under the tutelage of his mother, Henriette Wyeth.
Over the years, Michael grew adept at various media: oils, watercolors, and charcoal. Today he continues to paint in a representational style, drawing inspiration from the unique New Mexican setting. Be it a portrait, a landscape or an urban scene, Michael always works directly from life, for he believes the actual subject must be experienced if it is to be captured in a painting. His approach often means setting up an easel just off the side of the road in an effort to seize a fleeting moment.
Although the technique and subject matter of his artistic family is widely varied, Michael's artistic philosophy is his own: "I want to leave open ends, nuances, even ambiguities for the viewer to resolve. I have a conviction about the viewer being an integral part of the painting's working function and don't want to define meanings so tightly that they are inescapable."