THE COW­BOY LE­GACY

The CAA re­turns to the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western Her­itage Mu­seum in Ok­la­homa City.

Western Art Collector - - RCENTLY ACQUIRED - By Michael Claw­son

The rea­son sym­bols are so ef­fec­tive is how much they say with so lit­tle. Con­sider the cat­tle brand: it’s a length of iron with a tip that, when heated up red-hot, stamps a sim­ple lit­tle icon into a cow’s flank. The mark—some­times just an ab­stract ar­range­ment of shapes or even two crossed let­ters or num­bers—sig­ni­fies own­er­ship, but the brand means so much more to the peo­ple who ride un­der it. There is a pride that comes with those marks, and a valu­able sense of ac­com­plish­ment to see it spread out on hun­dreds of cat­tle on a range. In that brand is a great his­tory, and also a dream of the fu­ture.

The Cow­boy Artists of Amer­ica has its iconic “CA,” which of­ten works like a brand: it shows a form of own­er­ship, or mem­ber­ship, when it ap­pears next to a sig­na­ture; it in­vokes a sense of pride in those that get to stamp it on paint­ings or bronzes; and it also rep­re­sents a Western le­gacy, one that is rooted in the his­tory of art of the Amer­i­can West and shines for­ward into the fu­ture. That CA mark will re­turn to the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western Her­itage Mu­seum Oc­to­ber 4 for Cow­boy Cross­ings, the joint ex­hi­bi­tion for the Cow­boy Artists of Amer­ica and the Tra­di­tional Cow­boy Arts As­so­ci­a­tion.

Su­san Pat­ter­son, cu­ra­tor of spe­cial ex­hibits at the mu­seum, says this year’s show will once again ex­pand on the rich and won­der­ful story that is tak­ing place in Western art. “It’s look­ing re­ally great this year. They re­ally do ex­cel with ev­ery show, and this year is no ex­cep­tion,” Pat­ter­son says, adding that she is es­pe­cially ex­cited to present works from the CA’S new­est mem­bers, in­clud­ing Phil Epp, Mikel Don­ahue, C. Michael Du­dash and Tyler Crow, all in­ducted in 2016, and sculp­tor Dustin Payne, who was named the group’s new­est mem­ber last year. Payne is the first sculp­tor in­ducted into the group since Ja­son Scull was in­vited in 2011.

“It’s won­der­ful watch­ing them con­tinue to grow as an or­ga­ni­za­tion. They all have such unique voices in their works. This year we’ll have Dustin Payne, whose

work is go­ing to fit right in with the group. We even have Phil Epp, who’s mostly known as a painter, even he is bring­ing a bronze piece, which is very ex­cit­ing,” she says. “On the flipside, we have artists like Ore­land Joe, long known for his sculp­tural work, who will be bring­ing some paint­ings in­spired by ledger art. Ore­land is ex­cep­tion­ally tal­ented, and if he could bring jew­elry he would bring that too. The en­tire group is un­be­liev­ably tal­ented.”

Works in the show in­clude two stun­ning cow­boy oil paint­ings by Tom Brown­ing, Darn Near Quit­tin’ Time and In for the Brand, both of which show Brown­ing’s sense of set­ting and ac­tion; Grant Red­den’s noc­turne Western Moon­light; two ma­jor new Martin Grelle works, She Awaits Her War­rior and Mem­o­ries of Horses and Men; a full-body cow­boy por­trait by Don­ahue; five very con­tem­po­rary cow­boy and horse pieces, sev­eral of them quite large, by Epp, in­clud­ing one that cel­e­brates the Chisholm Trail; new cow­boy and ranch­ing scenes by Wayne Baize; and a gor­geously lit prairie scene with moun­tain men fig­ures by Clark Kel­ley Price.

Other artists that will have work in­clude Bill Ne­beker, Tyler Crow, Harold T. Holden, Paul Moore, Loren Entz, Bruce Greene, Jim Nor­ton, Ja­son Rich and Ja­son Scull.

An­other artist who will be bring­ing stun­ning new pieces is Teal Blake, whose work as a real-life cow­boy in­spires all of his paint­ings. Blake largely started as a wa­ter­color painter, but has grad­u­ally pushed his way into oils, and with great ef­fect, too. New oils in­clude Ranch Wa­ter, which shows a cow­boy and two horses wad­ing in a re­flec­tive pool, and Western Son, fea­tur­ing a cow­boy tak­ing a break in the shade as two sad­dled horses wait in a nearby cor­ral. He will also be bring­ing a wa­ter­color, The Cow­boy Kind, of a horse and rider push­ing through a surge of cat­tle.

“I’m al­ways try­ing to push my­self so ev­ery year I pick some re­ally hard stuff and just go for it,” Blake says. “I’m very ex­cited for this year’s show. The qual­ity of the work I’ve seen is great. Our shows are getting stronger and stronger. Of course the mar­ket has lulls here and there, but we’re pick­ing it up and mak­ing it hap­pen. We’re al­ways a uni­fied group and we’re al­ways on the same page and push­ing for­ward. We’re also all ex­cited about [new mu­seum pres­i­dent and CEO] Natalie Shirley. She’s re­ally rolling with the punches and she knows what she’s do­ing. She has a great team be­hind her and they’re de­ter­mined to make this year’s show the best one, which makes us feel pretty good about go­ing into it.”

Shirley, who was ap­pointed to the po­si­tion by the mu­seum’s board of di­rec­tors in Jan­uary, is the mu­seum’s first woman pres­i­dent and CEO. “The qual­ity and di­ver­sity of per­spec­tives show­cased in Cow­boy Cross­ings is in­dica­tive of how vast and rel­e­vant the West is to ev­ery­one to­day,” she says. “Western art is at the foun­da­tion of the Na­tional Cow­boy Mu­seum’s mis­sion, and the com­bi­na­tion of art styles rep­re­sented in this show, such as sad­dles and spurs along with paint­ings and sculp­ture, en­ables ev­ery­one to iden­tify with a part of the West.”

While the ex­hi­bi­tion runs through Novem­ber 25, the ma­jor com­po­nents of the ex­hi­bi­tion will take place dur­ing the open­ing week­end, in­clud­ing a din­ner with the artists on Oc­to­ber 4, an exclusive pre­view on Oc­to­ber 5, and a suite of ac­tiv­i­ties on Oc­to­ber 6, in­clud­ing an au­to­graph party, lunch with the artists, art demon­stra­tions by Epp and Joe, and the fixed-price by-draw sale fol­lowed by an awards din­ner.

Phil Epp, Out of the Blue, acrylic on can­vas, 60 x 84”

Grant Red­den, Western Moon­light, oil, 24 x 30”

Martin Grelle, She Awaits Her War­rior, oil on linen, 40 x 30”

Mikel Don­ahue, 06 Cow­boy, acrylic, 24 x 15”

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