Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cowboys...just because

My father was a huge cowboy fan, anything western. He spent a great deal of his childhood listening to the radio serials and every Saturday going to the movies with his Mother. He would wait all week to see what new chapter there was on the screen for his favorite gunslingers and cowpokes. He even named his first born after a cowboy picture....Alan Ladd's iconic role as Shane. That was me.

     To this day, after 57 years, I have still not seen that picture. All I really know about it is that Ladd is riding off into the sunset at the end of the film as a little boy yells "Shane! Come back Shane". That and the fact that Ladd was so short that he carried a wooden crate to stand on for most of the shots in the film.

     I have often said that my Father wanted a cowboy yet he got an art fag instead. What a disappoint that must have been. There were horses in my childhood...well sort of. My Father had a horse, my sister had a horse and for some unknown (and hateful reason methinks) I had a f*&king Shetland Pony. I to this day believe that they are all the most vile creatures on hooves. Right little bastards. Only good for making coats and glue. I won't go into the whole dynamic except to say that I was brutally humiliated by that little beast. Sam...his name was Sam. Satan would have been more appropriate and if there is a pony Hell I hope he is spending an eternity there.

     When I saw Easy Rider in 69 though I knew what film resonated with me and it wasn't a western. In time I had a bike and I was a fearless yet good rider save a few broken fingers barrelling through woods and brush. Another tale, another time.

     After my Father shed this mortal coil I came to find the cowboy as a symbol for my Father. I started collecting cowboy related imagery and filling my hard drive with hundreds of pixels all related to the cowboy and popular culture. I knew a rainy day would come when I would want to explore the cowboy mythos artistically. The cowboys have become symbolic of my Father and I's relationship. Even in his final days at home under hospice care my father was holding onto his cowboy fantasies. He woke from a deep morphine sleep and looked at me as he said loudly, "Shane! You are going to get us killed". As he shook off his confusion he explained that I had stuck my head too high from behind a large rock that we were hiding in wait to bushwhack some cowboy varmint or another.

Late in life my Father had come to appreciate my creative leanings. So with that I will just leave some of these cowboys here as a way to bring them to life again as I formulate exactly what role they will fulfill in my lifelong collection of paintings and artwork.

This is for you Dad...even though they came to mean two distinctly different things to me, Happy Trails, eternally.


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