Collector’s Fo­cus: Roam­ing the West

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS - By John O’Hern

Pres­i­dent Theodore Roo­sevelt and his dis­tant cousin Franklin De­lano Roo­sevelt were ar­dent con­ser­va­tion­ists. In 1903, Teddy Roo­sevelt went camp­ing alone with the great John Muir in Yosemite, rough­ing it as a Rough Rider would. In 1937, FDR vis­ited Yel­low­stone in the back of an open tour­ing car un­able to hike be­cause of the crip­pling ef­fects of po­lio. Later, he said in a speech, “I see an Amer­ica whose rivers and val­leys and lakes are pro­tected as the right­ful her­itage of the peo­ple.”

The Span­ish in­tro­duced horses to the West nearly 10,000 years af­ter their ex­tinc­tion in the last Ice Age. They be­came the ubiq­ui­tous mode of trans­porta­tion for Na­tive peo­ples and set­tlers alike. Horses also pulled wag­ons, trans­port­ing set­tlers across the plains and car­ry­ing pro­duce to mar­ket. Hyrum Joe (Navajo) paints the his­tor­i­cal do­mes­tic and cer­e­mo­nial life of his peo­ple, call­ing it “both an obli­ga­tion and a priv­i­lege. It’s an honor to share their sto­ries, the im­ages that come to me in dreams and from my par­tic­i­pa­tion in tra­di­tional rit­u­als, and to cre­ate mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tions of times gone by.”

Wa­ter­melon Day at the Trad­ing Post de­picts both rit­ual and cel­e­bra­tion—goods suc­cess­fully traded and a re­ward en­joyed com­pletely.

Fred Fel­lows grew up in Ok­la­homa, loved ranch life and, in part of his ca­reer, traded paint­ings for food and sup­plies. His grand un­cle rode in Buf­falo Bill’s Wild West Show and he, him­self, is to­day the long­est stand­ing mem­ber of the Cow­boy Artists of Amer­ica. He is steeped in the life of the West and knows both its grit and hu­mor. To in­sure the ac­cu­racy of his paint­ings and sculp­ture he has a large li­brary and a col­lec­tion of cow­boy gear and Plains In­dian ar­ti­facts.

Win­ning is Ev­ery­thing shows both. The driver of a 1920s run­about with a pickup body risks it all as he flies across the desert, sad­dle and fence-mend­ing tools fly­ing, to try to beat his race com­peti­tor who is on horse­back. It’s not clear who’s go­ing to win.

Robert Laduke is no stranger to roam­ing the West. He re­calls trips in the fam­ily Cadil­lac trail­ing an Airstream, a com­mon theme in his paint­ings. The nos­tal­gic im­ages of 1930s and ’40s travel are col­or­ful, like his col­lec­tion of steel toys, but they seem to have an­other side. “I en­joy cre­at­ing nar­ra­tives with mul­ti­ple mean­ings in my work,” he says. “I imag­ine that, a cer­tain dark but hu­mor­ous tone un­der­lies my car­toon-like il­lus­tra­tive sur­faces. Although re­al­ism of­ten dom­i­nates my work vis­ually, it is in fact merely pro­vid­ing a frame of ref­er­ence to a meta­phoric end.”

For­est in­vites in­ter­pre­ta­tion which Laduke en­cour­ages us to do. The vis­tas re­call the flat­ness and di­min­ished per­spec­tive of Ja­panese wood­block prints. The generic moun­tain shape re­calls the out­line of the iconic Mount Fuji.

The de­sign on the side of the trailer re­calls the com­ple­men­tar­ity of Yin and Yang. The bridge is a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the beau­ti­ful struc­tural stonework built by the work­ers of the Civil­ian Con­ser­va­tion Corps es­tab­lished by FDR as part of the “New Deal” in 1933. It em­ployed 2.5 mil­lion men over its nine-year run. Roam­ing the West is dif­fer­ent than it was in Roo­sevelt’s time. Jour­nal­ist Charles Ku­ralt ob­served, “Thanks to the In­ter­state High­way Sys­tem, it is now pos­si­ble to travel across the coun­try from coast to coast with­out see­ing any­thing.” Artists show us a dif­fer­ent way.

This spe­cial sec­tion cel­e­brates the spirit of free­dom to travel and ap­pre­ci­ate the West and its nat­u­ral beauty.

Dar­cie Peet be­gan “roam­ing the West” at 5, when she threw snow­balls with her dad in Rock Moun­tain Na­tional Park. Since then, see­ing ad­ven­ture and paint­ing sub­ject mat­ter has taken her to num­ber­ous des­ti­na­tions across the West. Peet de­scribes her piece Sim­ply Sun­rise as “a dif­fer­ent twist on iconic Pikes Peak and Gar­den of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado, one very frigid Oc­to­ber morn­ing as I waited for the sun to rise to cap­ture this fleet­ing light. Pikes Peak has been the back­drop for col­lege years; later home for my dad; and sum­mers as a camp wran­gler spent on the west side of Pikes Peak where it rises as a soli­tary, sin­gu­lar peak seen for miles.”

Fred Fel­lows, Win­ning Is Ev­ery­thing, oil on board, 20 x 37". Cour­tesy Trail­side Gal­leries, Scotts­dale, AZ, and Jack­son Hole, WY.

Dar­cie Peet, Sim­ply Sun­rise, oil, 24 x 48"

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.