Contemporary Cowboys in Art
Known for his American western scenes and their depictions of the emotion and life of that time, Gerald Harvey Jones was noted for his ability to translate these feelings in a way not previously seen. Born in San Antonio, Texas on November 1, 1933 and living in the state his whole life alongside his family, Jones had a strong connection to the western way of life. His grandfather was a trail boss cowboy in the state, which heavily inspired and connected Jones to his chosen subject matter.
After graduating from North Texas State University in 1956, Jones took a job as an industrial arts teacher at O’Henry Junior High. While teaching, Jones found his passion for sketching and drawing and would spend his evenings and weekends practicing. His wife Patty encouraged his work and bought him his first oil paints in the late 1950s. Soon after Jones went to share his paintings with the Country Store Gallery in Austin, where he received critiques and support from a dealer who provided him with supplies, paying him $25 per painting. In 1963, Jones made the decision to dedicate himself full-time to his art and quit his teaching job. It was around this time he also served on the staff of the University of Texas as a supervisor for the Texas Union of Arts and Crafts. During his time there he discovered the French ‘great painters of light,’ including Luigi Loir and Edouard Cortes. He adapted their methods of painting light and applied them to his art, pioneering this technique among American western artists.
In 1965 Jones entered the Grand National Exhibition in New York as his first major show, where he was awarded the new Masters Award by the American Artists Professional League. He expanded beyond his original medium and also worked in bronze. Through exhibitions and private sales, his popularity spread across the U.S., landing some of his work in museums where they reside today, including the Smithsonian. Throughout his career, Jones remained dedicated to capturing the beauty and history of the American west through his paintings.
You can view his work in our sale here.
Born to an artist mother and cowboy father in 1942, Bill Owen was deeply rooted in western art and lifestyle. He lived his whole life in his native state of Arizona, regarding his work as a “recording of what will someday be the history of the contemporary cowboy of [Arizona].” He found his specialization as a painter and sculptor to be realistic and accurate representation, working off of what he would see in his day to day. Owen began drawing with pastels in grade school, taking inspiration from his real-life experiences for his art from a very early age. He continued to draw on these experiences when he began working as a cowboy on various ranches, competing at rodeos, and eventually owning his own ranch with his wife.
While still working as a rancher, Owen made his first gallery sale in the late 1960s. Shortly after he was inducted into the Cowboys Artists of America in 1973 at the age of 31, serving as the organization’s president three times. Exhibitions of his work have been shown at prestigious venues around the world, including the Grand Palais in Paris, the Western Art Show in Beijing, and the Whitney Museum of Western Art in Cody, Wyoming. In 1993 Owens was awarded the Frederic Remington Award for Artistic Merit by the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Ten years later he was the first recipient of the “Express Ranches Great American Cowboy Award” at the Prix de West Invitational Exhibition & Sale.
At 47 years old, decades into his art career, Owen lost his eye in a rodeo accident and had to stop sculpting. However, he continued painting and learned to compensate for his lack of depth perception, again picking up sculpture 13 years later. Between his multitudes of awards and choruses of recognition, he was most proud of the Arizona Cowpuncher’s Scholarship Organization that he founded in 1995, which provided educational scholarships for individuals from Arizona’s ranching communities, helping to ensure that the traditions of the west would continue to thrive.
You can view his work in our sale here.