As lovers of the Wild West, I’m sure you are quite familiar with the term Western Lifestyle or else Cowboy Culture. You might already know which were the top—and the best—cowboy activities but let me ask, darling, would you be interested in learning what were some of the artistic skills of the most talented people of the era? Well, if you’re as thrilled as I am, join me and let’s start today’s wild western and artistic trip!
Because, being a cowboy those days wasn’t only about what one was wearing, drinking or even chewing and smoking—tobacco!—but also what activities one was doing…
…and I’m telling you, sweetie, the following men totally left their mark in the history of the Old Wild West!
Painting And Sculpture In The Wild West?!
Ranchers, farmers, cowboys, sheriffs, outlaws…But what about the western artists? Were there painters, sculptors, photographers? Of course, there were! All of them.
Please, meet our first artist, for today. Mr. Frederic Remington.
He was born in 1861, from a German father and a French mother. He moved with his family to Ogdensburg, New York where at the age of eleven he attended the Vermont Episcopal Institute. Frederic had difficulty in focusing and in this Institute, his father was hoping that the discipline would lead him to a military career. But there, a miracle happened!
Frederic took his first drawing lessons! He was transferred to another military school, let’s say a more “loose” one, where he actually had some fun…
Then he went to Yale to study his new love…art! At the age of nineteen, he made his first trip to Montana.
Fun Fact: At first he went to Montana to buy a cattle operation and try his luck at the mines, but he didn’t have enough money to financially support neither of his two business choices, after all! Either way, he stayed there and lived his own western experience.
When he later on moved to Brooklyn, he sent some of his drawings and illustrations where he was depicting his western experiences, to the newspaper Harper’s Weekly. The newspaper seemed very interested in his work.
Thanks to his experiences, he had gathered many notes, sketches, drawings and photos, where it was clear he had studied very well the world of the Wild West and its… colors! He started working at Harper’s Weekly as an artist correspondent. Among others, he covered the government’s war against Geronimo, the Charleston Earthquake in 1886, and many others.
Did He Suceed?
Yes. He totally did! During a period that it was really tough to be an artist, Frederic managed to earn a few thousand dollars in his first year of working at Harper’s Weekly. His paintings, photos and illustrations drew people’s attention and, as a result, Frederic started selling some of his work.
His attention to detail and the historical aspect he was presenting through his work made important people of the era, such as Western Army officers, to request from him their portraits!
What Came Next For Frederic?
From an artist correspondent, Frederic became a kind of historian artist! He visited many Western towns and countries and he kept painting. When he became more confident with his work, he claimed that at that point of his life, he remembered so well the western sceneries, that he didn’t even need a camera to capture the scenes and landscapes (so that he would be able to study them while starting a new project). Later on, he also became a sculptor.
Edward S. Curtis was a photographer and a very important ethnologist who focused on the American West and the Native American people. In 1895, after changing a few partners in the photographic studios of Seattle where he was living, he met Princess Angeline Kickisomlo, who was the daughter of Chief Sealth of Seattle. He photographed her and with her photograph he started his portrait career. He took part—with great success—in many exhibitions.
During his expeditions, Edward met the famous anthropologist George Bird Grinnell who taught him many things and historical facts. He and Grinnell went to an expedition to photograph people of the Blackfoot Confederacy…together! How brave!
With his projects, he managed to get proper funding and gain the support of many respectable anthropologists. This way he could continue his work and publish not only his photographs but also his studies and notes about the American Native peoples and the history of the Old West!
He worked extensively with many ethnologists, photographers, and anthropologists.
How Did Edward Continue His Artistic Journey?
Well, later on, in 1922, Edward moved to Los Angeles where he opened his studio. He worked as an assistant cameraman to earn some money. One thing is for sure, darling: his two published studies educated many people who totally ignored the history and the people of the West!
And now, dear, I’ve got a sweet cowboy poet for you!
Bruce Kiskaddon’s poems were literally…everywhere! Calendars, books, magazines…Oh my!
The Experience Talks
Of course, to be a famous cowboy poet those days, you needed to have some experience. And let me tell you this: our dear Bruce had ten years of experience when he first started composing his poems. He had worked ten years as a cowboy! I honestly don’t have anything else to say here.
But there is more! In the outbreak of World War I, he joined the army and honorable served his country in France. After returning, he worked with great success in many cattle industries.
His Love For The Arts Led Him In Another Path
Bruce started writing poems about what life was really like in the Wild West.He first published his genuine poems in 1924. Two years later, he went to…Hollywood! And he never came back. He stayed there for the rest of his life,taking part in Western films.
And since we’re moving towards the end of this article, I will close it with a part from Bruce’s poem Shorty’s Yarns – Western Stories and Poems:
I wonder jest what that fat feller would think,
If he lived on short grass and went miles fer a drink.
And wintered outdoors in the sleet and the snow.
He wouldn’t look much like he does at the show.
I wouldn’t be like him; no, not if I could.
I caint figger out why they think he’s so good.
Send Me A Bye-Bye Work Of Art
The time to say goodbye has come…I’m sure you love the Wild West as much as I do and that’s why I truly hope you love its artistic aspects as well!
I hope those men inspired you today. Thank you for being here with me in another unique western experience.
I would love to hear your thoughts. I’ll be more than happy to see your comment below or find an email in my inbox folder!
See you soon!
Written by Clarice Mayfield