Michael Cassidy & Jamie Burnes
Over the course of time, the West has lured people with its grandeur and mystique—including the places, wildlife and cast of characters. In the upcoming exhibition Tales of the West at Gerald Peters Gallery, Michael Cassidy and Jamie Burnes will
present artwork that honors this past with a nod toward the contemporary. Cassidy’s artwork touches on the romance of the West through his Western Pulp series of paintings based on old “dime” novels and early Western movie posters of the 1920s and 1930s. Burnes’ wildlife sculptures show the duality of the creatures— their docile nature and dominance—in abstracted wood and metal forms.
Cassidy’s paintings take on the look of these old posters and magazine covers, but they are his own creations that appeal “not only to the romantic impressions of the West but the design aspects of the way it was promoted in movies and print.” His painting Thrilling Western, Rustlers of the Rio is a nod to the nocturnal Western paintings of Frank Tenney Johnson, who Cassidy calls the master of that genre. In his piece, Cassidy shows a cowboy on a white horse, perhaps getting ready to call it a night as the moonlight is his only guide in the wild.
Star Western, The Danger Trail depicts a man in a 10-gallon “Gus” cowboy hat, which is something Cassidy loves to include in his artwork. “There’s a Gus hat in almost every painting of a cowboy I’ve ever done,” he says. “They probably weren’t real practical to wear on the range. In the case of the West, it might just be that the value of the Western ‘myth’ might be more important than the reality.”
Drawn to the tension between the organic and the synthetic, Burnes’ sculptures explore how one informs the other as archetypal
wildlife meld in wood and bronze. Boudicca depicts a bison, with the artist explaining, “Upon first glance a bison appears docile and amicable, almost petlike. A closer inspection reveals their fierce power and raw dominance. This duality is repeated in the materials and energy of the proud Boudicca: from afar she is lifelike, while close-up she is a layering of materials, intricate spaces and deep patina. The tension is repeated through the natural, heart wood grain contrasting with the handforged metal. The harmony between these odd couples becomes a spirited being.”
Each sculpture Burnes creates has its own energy, and because of the time he spends creating the work the animals become characters to him. Such is the case with Black Jack, which pays homage to the last horse used by the U.S. Army. Burnes says, “He served for a record amount of years and was a large and noble creature made famous for being active in funeral processions for his many of histories mavericks.”
Tales of the West will be on view August 9 through September 28.
Michael Cassidy, Thrilling Western, Rustlers of the Rio, oil on linen, 69½ x 53¾”
Jamie Burnes, Oscar, corten steel and eastern red cedar, 20 x 33¾ x 12½”
Jamie Burnes, Boudicca, corten steel and heart of eastern cedar, 30 x 39 x 14”
Michael Cassidy, Star Western, The Danger Trail, oil on linen, 69½ x 47½”