Paintings at home on the range
Simply put, Jim Norton is one of the best painters around today, working within the western genre. The images he portrays reflect a West reminiscent of a Howard Hawks movie. Stand in front of one of his canvases depicting Native Americans crossing a river, or scanning the horizon for game, or cowboys wrangling mustangs, and you can hear the hooves splashing in the water, feel the wind and smell the air.
His color palette is taken directly from expansive blue skies, dusty trails and the tawny autumn wilderness. If ever there was a purple mountain majesty, Norton has captured it in the 3 by 4 foot canvas “In the land of the Utes.” In another, “Land of the Good Beaver” the cool, blue shadows cast on the snow by late afternoon sun, suggest the hardship and solitude of the lone hunter.Visitors to the show will find sixteen new works by Norton, all of which reveal the passion and sensitivity he has for the landscape and its early inhabitants. The relationship these Native Americans and their cowboy counterparts have with their surroundings is one of the more prevailing themes extolled in Norton’s work.
Born in Price, Utah, and raised in New Mexico and Wyoming, Norton has spent most of his life in the western United States. These experiences have given him an enduring love for the territory and its culture, both historical and contemporary. A member of the Cowboy Artists of America for the past 15 years, Norton has received numerous awards for oil painting, including the Cowboy Artists Award for Exemplary Body of Work. It is easy to understand why, when viewing this show. The exhibition will run until Aug. 30, so strap on your chaps, saddle up your pony, and head on over to Claggett-Rey.
Stew Mosberg is a freelance writer and recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the author of two books on design, teaches design at Colorado Mountain College and can be reached at WrtrF@aol.com