Contary to what most people believe the desert does have a lot of color besides beige, and a lot of flora besides cacti. My favorite is the Palo Verde tree. Green from its roots to its leaves during the spring, it is an eye-catcher with its brilliant green trunk. It is also a signal the spring round-up is on its way.
In the west that’s the time for cowboys to saddle up and hit the trail. It’s an exciting time of hard work for everyone, including the cattle. It means hard riding, eating dust, or in some cases getting bogged down in spring snow storms. No one understood it better, or captured it more realistically, than Joe Beeler, Charlie Dye, John Hampton, Fred Harman, and George Phippen. These five men were seasoned cowboys earning their living at one point in their lives by cowboying. However that is not what they are known for. All five were the founders of The Cowboy Artists of America, and a colorful lot they were. Fred Harman, Cold War spy, created the popular character Red Ryder before he turned to fine art, Joe Beeler won awards for his bronze and canvas work, John Hampton, WWII intelligence artist, was a New Yorker who out cowboy the western cowpokes, Charlie Dye cowboyed in the movies and provided national magazines with some of their best covers, and George Phippen started it all by insisting western art should depict what cowboys really did and not just show pretty trees and ranges. All five are gone now, but their art lives on in museums, galleries and private homes, and so does the organization they founded.
Here are a few places you can see their art: Denver Art Museum, Gilcrease Museum, Leanin’ Tree Museum, National
Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, The Rockwell Museum, The Museum of Western Art, Phippen Museum of Western Art.
Check the internet for addresses and more places to view the works of The Cowboy Artists of America. Include a visit on your next vacation. Its a treat for the whole family. Meanwhile read PAINT ‘N SPURS for a real insight into the lives of these fascinating men and their art.