Charles: This is the real West, not the John Wayne West this isn’t the Clint Eastwood West.
THIS IS THE WEST AS IT WAS A CENTURY OR TWO AGO, THE WEST THAT’D JUST AS SOON KILL YOU AS LOOK AT YOU; UNSPOILED, UNTAMED. ‘WINDOW ON THE WEST: VIEWS FROM THE AMERICAN FRONTIER’ IS THE NEW EXHIBITION AT THE FORT WAYNE ART MUSEUM AND IT SHOWS VIVIDLY WHY BIG NAME EASTERN ARTISTS WERE DRAWN TO PLACES LIKE SHOSHONE FALLS, WHEN JUST GETTING THERE TOOK WEEKS ON HORSEBACK.
Charles: If you were to stay back in Boston or New York you’re gonna do some portraits, you’re gonna do some buildings you’re gonna do some predictable things and at a certain point your market’s gonna slow down.
BUT THE UNTAMED WEST OFFERED ENDLESS SUBECTS, STARTLING LIGHT AND COLOR-AND EASTERNERS PAID BIG BUCKS FOR THESE OIL SNAPSHOTS OF THE WEST THEY’D HEARD OF BUT NEVER SEEN. THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO BRAVED THE SNAKES, THE COLD, THE DESOLATION TO PAINT THESE PRISTINE LANDSCAPES KNEW IT WOULDN’T LAST. MAN BEGINS TO CREEP INTO FRAME, TENTATIVELY AT FIRST..THEN MORE BOLDLY.
Charles: They desperately wanted to capture that knowing that that painting would last so that people would see later on what the west was before everything took over.
MANY OF THESE PIECES WERE COMMISSIONED BY THE RAILROAD TO LURE SETTLERS FROM THE EAST AND IT WORKED. THIS WESTERN TOWN IN 1870 RESEMBLES A NEW ENGLAND VILLAGE, AND BY 1890 COLORADO SPRINGS LOOKS POSITIVELY INDUSTRIALIZED. NATIVE AMERICANS COULD ONLY WATCH AS WIDE OPEN SPACE WAS SUPPLANTED BY BARBED WIRE, URBAN SPRAWL AND WATER SHORTAGES. BUT THAT PRISTINE PLACE, THAT HEAVEN-ON-EARTH THAT WAS THE UNSPOILED WEST STILL LIVES, IN OIL ON CANVAS AT LEAST..REMINDING US OF WHAT WAS, AND WARNING OF WHAT CAN SO EASILY BE.
Charles: I’m hoping that people will leave this exhibit with an appreciation for the west, and for watching out for our natural resources.
ERIC OLSON, OUT IN YOUR COUNTRY.
What are your thoughts CLICK HERE to leave us a "Your2Cents” comment.
© Copyright 2013 A Granite Broadcasting Station. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.