Colorado: A different kind of ranch, a different kind of cowboy artist |

Colorado: A different kind of ranch, a different kind of cowboy artist

William Porter
The Denver Post
Rancher Duke Phillips, left and Western painter Duke Beardsley, right, ride together for the last round up of cattle for the season. They are rounding up the cattle to do vaccinations, branding and castration on the calves. Beardsey makes bi-monthly trips to Chico Basin Ranch south of Colorado Springs for inspiration in his work. He sketches and photographs cowboys in their element: roping, calving, branding, riding and working the land. He takes home these impressions and images to create his unique work. Beardsley is a local Denver painter who has made a unique niche for himself painting pop art, Andy Warhol inspired paintings of cowboys. He uses bold colors and a special layering technique using charcoal, pencil, oil and acrylic paints to capture his subjects in a unique manner. Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post

The sky at Chico Basin Ranch seems impossibly vast, befitting the rolling landscape it covers like a pale blue bowl: 87,000 grass-cloaked acres, studded with five spring-fed lakes and, depending on the season, up to 2,500 cattle.

The ranch, situated in an empty place on the map more than 30 miles southeast of Colorado Springs, is a cowboy’s paradise. That means it is also paradise for any cowboy artist worth his paint.

Which is where the two Dukes come in, a pair of princes in their respective realms and visionaries to boot.

Duke Phillips is the rancher. Duke Beardsley is the artist. Together, in a fusion of commerce and conservation that could only happen in the open West, the two do what is possible to summon

The two men are mavericks of a sort. They operate within a tradition, yet stand apart from it.

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