Blaz­ing New Trails

The Cow­boy Artists of Amer­ica brings its vi­sion of the West to Fort Worth, Texas, on Novem­ber 1 and 2.

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS - By Michael Claw­son

The Cow­boy Artists of Amer­ica have em­barked on a new ad­ven­ture for its 2019 ex­hi­bi­tion and sale. Good thing cow­boys and ad­ven­tures usu­ally go hand in hand. After many years in Ok­la­homa City— and be­fore that, many years in Phoenix—the in­flu­en­tial art group has struck out on its own with the 54th an­nual Cow­boys Artists of Amer­ica Sale & Ex­hi­bi­tion to be held Novem­ber 1 and 2 at Amon G. Carter Jr. Ex­hibits Hall in Fort Worth, Texas. The show will have many fa­mil­iar el­e­ments—the high-qual­ity art­work, artist demon­stra­tions and a fixed-price, by-draw sale—and yet it’s a wild de­par­ture from pre­vi­ous shows. Mostly be­cause the CAA has to or­ches­trate ev­ery as­pect of it, from the park­ing and ticket dis­tri­bu­tion, to the cater­ing and light­ing, to the gallery space and hang­ing of the art­work—ev­ery facet of the show is left to the mem­bers to plan and carry out.

At the cen­ter of all of it is CAA pres­i­dent Ja­son Rich. “Ev­ery­thing is com­ing to­gether great. And best of all, the re­sponse from our Texas and Fort Worth fans has been fan­tas­tic. We’re go­ing to get a warm wel­come when we ar­rive,” Rich says from his Utah stu­dio. The artist was po­si­tioned for the role of pres­i­dent sev­eral years ago, a role he vol­un­teered for. “No one had any idea this was com­ing down the pike sev­eral years ago, but now here we are and it’s fallen on me. I’m happy to lead the group out and un­der­take this whole project. When you fol­low the CA back, it was one of the fore­run­ners of these modern mu­seum ex­hi­bi­tions and sales.

Now all the mu­se­ums do them. So it’s go­ing to be fun to see what we can come up with.”

Rich is quick to point out that the mu­seum the group is com­ing from, the Na­tional Cow­boy & West­ern Her­itage Mu­seum in Ok­la­homa, is a world-class venue that was very good to the group and to West­ern art in gen­eral. “We love them there, and all that they stand for. It is a great place, the pre­mier place, for West­ern art,” he says. “The rea­son we left was be­cause we re­al­ized there were some goals we wanted to pur­sue, par­tic­u­larly some of our ed­u­ca­tion goals, but we also wanted to get back to the Cow­boy Artists. Over the last cou­ple of years, we’d lost some of our iden­tity, so for this show we wanted to show­case who we are and let ev­ery­one know what our mis­sion is. We have a chance to present who we are and what we stand for. It was a tough choice to make this move, but we’re ex­cited at what the fu­ture holds for us.”

He adds that the group will con­tinue to work with mu­se­ums in the fu­ture, and even has some ex­cit­ing mu­seum news that may be an­nounced at the Fort Worth show— “Mu­se­ums are an im­por­tant part to ev­ery­thing we do,” he says. Mean­while, for this year’s show, it’s up to the Rich and his wife, Kari, and the rest of the CAA to turn out a hit in Fort Worth. Events be­gin Novem­ber 1 with a pre­view party with food, drinks and live mu­sic, fol­lowed by a full day of events on Novem­ber 2, which in­cludes a morn­ing au­to­graph ses­sion, an awards lun­cheon and fi­nally the evening sale. The art demon­stra­tions are go­ing to get an up­grade: in­stead of do­ing the demos in the same venue as the sale, the artists will fan out across Fort Worth’s Cul­tural Dis­trict. Artists will set up shop at the Amon Carter Mu­seum of Amer­i­can Art, the Kim­bell Art Mu­seum, Na­tional Cow­girl Mu­seum and Hall of Fame and the Cat­tle Rais­ers Mu­seum, all of which are within walk­ing dis­tance of each other. There will also be an artist at the Sid Richard­son Mu­seum, home to one of the great col­lec­tions of works by Charles M. Rus­sell and Fred­eric Rem­ing­ton.

“Fort Worth has one of the great arts dis­tricts. Ev­ery­thing is right there, in­clud­ing world-class mu­se­ums,” Rich says, adding that the demos will ful­fill one of the group’s

ed­u­ca­tional goals, as will some young vis­i­tors. “On Fri­day we have some arts groups com­ing through from nearby schools and we will all be there an­swer­ing their ques­tions. It’s a great op­por­tu­nity for schoolkids to in­ter­act with the artists. We want to be there to build those re­la­tion­ships and in­ter­act with ev­ery­one.”

Ac­tive mem­bers of the CAA in­clude Wayne Baize, Teal Blake, Tom Brown­ing, Tyler Crow, Mikel Don­ahue, C. Michael Du­dash, Phil Epp, Bruce Greene, Mar­tin Grelle, Ore­land Joe, Bill Ne­beker, Jim Nor­ton, Dustin Payne, Clark Kel­ley Price, Chad Pop­ple­ton, Grant Red­den and Ja­son Scull. Ad­di­tion­ally, sev­eral note­wor­thy emer­i­tus mem­bers will also be par­tic­i­pat­ing, in­clud­ing John Cole­man.

Art­works in the show in­clude Epp’s con­tem­po­rary scenes of West­ern lands, all ren­dered in mag­nif­i­cently vi­brant color and dra­matic com­po­si­tions that play with the vast­ness of the land­scape; Red­den’s roug­hand-tum­ble cow­boys; Price’s his­tor­i­cal scenes in­volv­ing work­ing cow­boys and cow­girls, Na­tive Amer­i­cans and trap­pers; Joe’s ledgerin­spired oil paint­ings, each one im­bued with sym­bol­ism and sto­ry­telling; and Blake’s play­ful views of the West, in­clud­ing an im­age of a burro with a faded, time-weath­ered Coca-cola sign. Pop­ple­ton, the group’s new­est mem­ber, will be show­ing his wildlife and cow­boy paint­ings.

Grelle will be pre­sent­ing a new work, In a World of Change, show­ing a lone Na­tive Amer­i­can fig­ure on horse­back. “I have been want­ing to do a paint­ing of a Crow scout for a while, and had the op­por­tu­nity to have it modeled this past sum­mer. The lat­ter part of the 19th cen­tury saw huge changes for the Na­tive peo­ples, es­pe­cially for those liv­ing in the West­ern part of the coun­try. In the tur­moil, old en­e­mies re­mained, and new al­liances were formed,” Grelle says. “Many war­riors were hired by the cavalry to scout against tra­di­tional en­e­mies, and at times against their own peo­ple as well…as was the case with the Sioux dur­ing the events lead­ing up to Wounded Knee in 1890. For these war­riors, their world was rapidly evolv­ing—as they tried to re­tain their her­itage but also tried to find ways to be­come a part of the over­whelm­ing world that was com­ing upon them.”

Greene will be show­ing both oils and bronzes, in­clud­ing the ac­tion-packed While Rid­ing the Canyon Rim, which shows a rider en­coun­ter­ing two deer. The Texas painter can’t wait to show his work, and the work of his fel­low CA mem­bers, in his home state. “I’ve seen tremen­dous ex­cite­ment here in Fort Worth. Peo­ple are par­tic­u­larly ex­cited to be in­ter­act­ing with the mu­seum dis­trict, which has been very sup­port­ive and help­ful as they work with us and what we’re try­ing to do,” Greene says. “Fort Worth is a neat place, es­pe­cially for fans of the West, and we can’t wait to show there.”

Grant Red­den, Chance of Rain, oil on linen, 29 x 31”

Phil Epp, Ap­proach­ing Storm, acrylic on board, 30 x 40”

Dustin Payne, Mys­tery of the Riverbed, bronze, ed. of 17, 12 x 24 x 11”

Tom Brown­ing, Evening Ride, oil, 19 x 18”

Mar­tin Grelle, In a World of Change, oil on linen, 40 x 30”

John Cole­man, Mother’s Fa­vorite, oil, 24 x 16”

Ore­land Joe, Plenty of Horses, oil, 36 x 24”

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