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Echoes of the New Frontier: Part II
Opening July 19th

COL Gallery is pleased to present Echoes of the New Frontier: Part II on view July 19th through August 17th, 2024 featuring works by Emmi Whitehorse, Laurie Simmons, Esteban Samayoa, Ed Ruscha, Kevin Zabasky Perkins, Cruz Ortiz, Charles Lee, Yowshien Kuo, Grace Kennison, Terran Last Gun, Ashley Garrett, Becca Fuhrman, Jose Dávila, Devynn Barnes.

 

The mythic American West ended around 1900. The cattle drives dried up, the trails had grassed over and what was actually a tough, thankless agrarian task became the stuff of legend—fodder for the imaginations of children and adults alike. 

 

As the twentieth century progressed, the image and legend of the cowboy continued to grow. Writers, actors, and artists alike shared the public’s fascination with the grit, courage, and adventures of the American cowboy–a fascination extending to the present day. Children dress up as them, movies and TV shows are made about them, and Marlboro used the cowboy as the perfect image of strength and virility as an advertising ploy to sell more cigarettes; ads which Richard Prince famously appropriated.

 

The image and mystique of the cowboy became all the more poignant when situated in an environment of rolling hills, isolated plains, and seemingly endless mountain peaks. For generations, representations of that idyllic landscape have been employed by artists to portray a perception of American grandeur. The painters of the Hudson River School in the mid-19th century, for instance, explored and expressed the sublime wonder and perils of the various American frontiers. In more recent memory, younger generations of artists have taken up the reigns and continue to imagine a transforming landscape in a literal and psychological sense. These artists have expanded ideas of what the “West” meant and means and while the appeal of the cowboy remains and the American landscape continues to transform, portrayals have become as expansive and diverse as each American’s reality.  

 

As the artistic interpretation and cultural exploration and development of the American West has

continued, criticism has inevitably arisen about those who have been excluded from romanticized versions of Western portrayals. Contemporary artists tackle these relevant issues

while they continue to represent the West as a space, a culture and an experience that mirrors a long-standing and, still relevant, national identity centered on the ideas of freedom, independence, and self-reliance.

 

The West, we have come to realize, is not just a place, but a state of mind—it exists for the dreamers and thrill seekers as well as for the rebels and difference makers. And, thankfully, it still exists for the storytellers—oral histories, entertaining tales, and legends that have been told around campfires, passed down within families, shared with friends and colleagues—stories that unite and highlight the diverse makeup of the American experience.  

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