Author Topic: Do you like western art?  (Read 793 times)

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Offline JW_Halverson

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Do you like western art?
« on: September 04, 2021, 09:27:09 pm »
The reason I ask is that I help out with an artists photo shootout every year here in western South Dakota. We bring in 60 or so models, two trailers of props and costumes, as many horse trailers of stock as we can arrange, and set up scenarios for western artists to photograph. This year two dozen of the world's best artists came to a ranch near Edgemont, SD to gather research material that they will take home to compose paintings and sculpture.

If you go through magazines like Western Art, Art of the West, Cowboys and Indians, etc, you will NOT find a single issue over the last 10 years that does not have a photo of a piece of art that originated at this event. This is no new idea, either. Charlie Russell invited Phillip R. Goodwin out to Montana to paint and generate studies of future works. Russell and Goodwin hired models, dressed them, and photographed/sketched them and used this resource material for many of their best works.

I get up at 3:00 a.m. to start breakfasts so I can feed the models and artists in time for them to start at sunrise when the light is warm and rich. Once I have breakfast cleaned up I start the hot lunch. This year breakfasts included biscuits and gravy, breakfast casserole with taters, onions, peppers, and fresh free range farm eggs. Lunch was beef stew and biscuits, chili con carne and tortillas, and even roast pork, mashed taters and gravy, and vegetables. It takes me to around 3 p.m. to finish cleanup from lunch and my day FINALLY starts. I head for the barn to get costumed and paired with an artist that directs me for poses and actions.

This year Russell Smith asked specifically for me because he wanted to do an homage to Phillip R Goodwin's action art. We set up a small campfire in a cut down metal barrel and I and another model were posed in an action shot of reaching for our rifles in panic as a grizzly rises up out of the dark. In order to get the two of us focused on the same spot in three dimensions, we had a guy standing back in dark  roughly where the bear would be. We went through about 20 different poses and positions photographed from every possible angle. Once we wrapped up, back to the barn to check our costume pieces and guns back in, then off to a round of goodnights and hearty handshakes. I am in bed no later than midnight and up again at 3:00 a.m.

Well, until Saturday night. On Saturday night, Bickel's Saloon opens for business. This saloon would fit into a gold rush camp anywhere from California to the Yukon, just as easily in early Deadwood, or with a few choice props and a change from western hats to pith helmets it can suddenly be in Mombasa or Kenya. Bickel has a selection of original whiskey and spirit bottles that sit on the bar. The bar is rough sawn ponderosa pine mill slabs laying across whiskey barrels. Nothing seems to have the correct color and glow when we've tried to reproduce the look of whiskey, so we just fill the bottles with the real stuff and pour that. All models are discouraged from actually consuming, but the conviviality of the evening seems to make outside observers think that people are *ahem* well, you know...."overserved".

Artists set up cowboys at the bar with drinks in hand, and the young ladies that earlier in the day were homesteader's wifes and schoolmarms are suddenly tranformed into dance hall floozies and hoochie-coochie girls. Never fails, there always ends up with a game of poker in one corner and one person of questionable morals seems to set up a Faro table in the other corner. Saloonkeeper Bickel apparently didn't drink enough water (or maybe too much water substitute) and was poured into bed about 1:00 a.m. He did extract a promise from me that I'd help his step-daughter close the place down properly when everyone was finished "salooning". At 3:00 a.m. she and I chivvied the last of the imbibers out the door, blew out the tin oil lamps, and buttoned things up. And I went straight to making breakfast! Whew-weeee! My first weekend off in over 7 months and I'm gonna need a week of vacation to recuperate. On the plus side, I did learn how to burn runny eggs, though for the life of me I cannot remember how I did it.

Russell Smith is also a great videographer and posted a small documentary of his impressions of the Fiddler's Green Western Artist Photoshoot: https://youtu.be/hGng5x3RNl4
Guns have triggers. Bicycles have wheels. Trees and bows have wooden limbs.

Offline Trapper Rob

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2021, 09:07:11 am »
JW sounds like they kept you busy and you had a great time.

Offline BrianS

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2021, 09:12:03 am »
Thank you very much for your post and the link to the video. Very interesting! Watching the video was a great way to start my day. Thanks again.
brian

Offline Parnell

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2021, 02:10:19 pm »
Very cool video.  The landscape and shots are amazing.
1>1

Offline Hawkdancer

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2021, 03:13:17 pm »
Sounds like a great time was had by all!  I know for a fact the food was par excellence!
Hawkdancer
Life is far too serious to be taken that way!
Jerry

Offline JW_Halverson

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2021, 04:54:55 pm »
It's a heck of a ride, that's for sure!

I am already planning next year's menu and changing things up. Thinking a Cajun day with jambalay, maybe deep fried turkeys with all the trimmings?
Guns have triggers. Bicycles have wheels. Trees and bows have wooden limbs.

Offline gifford

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2021, 08:18:05 pm »
JW Thanks for taking the time to record and post the video. Sounds like you need an assistant, heck, I recall Wishbone having Mushy as an assistant.

Offline JW_Halverson

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2021, 04:04:51 pm »
That was Russell Smith's video.
Guns have triggers. Bicycles have wheels. Trees and bows have wooden limbs.

Offline gifford

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2021, 06:10:46 pm »
Oops, sorry about that, thanks for correcting my misunderstanding.

Offline jimmi the sammi

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2021, 10:48:34 pm »
Thanks for the link to the video, John!  Beautiful country!  Recognize the area for sure.  There are petroglyphs close by in several of the canyons.  Great hunting near.  Lots of game.  Killed my last gobbler not far away from there.

Offline jimmi the sammi

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2021, 11:14:41 pm »
Forgot to mention, good photo of you, also!

Offline BowEd

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2021, 07:19:25 am »
Pretty cool JW...South Dakota is a beautiful state with a ton of history.
BowEd
You got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything.
Ed

Offline JW_Halverson

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Re: Do you like western art?
« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2021, 10:06:30 pm »
Thanks for the link to the video, John!  Beautiful country!  Recognize the area for sure.  There are petroglyphs close by in several of the canyons.  Great hunting near.  Lots of game.  Killed my last gobbler not far away from there.

There were petroglyphs where much of the photography was taking place. We just did not point it out and in one case, we kinda disguised it with some brush piled up nearby. Most of the people there would be respectful, but sometimes a hoople-headed wrong thinker sneaks through.
Guns have triggers. Bicycles have wheels. Trees and bows have wooden limbs.