Michael Cassidy & Jamie Burnes


West­ern sto­ries

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”

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