Tales of the West: Michael Cassidy & Jamie Burnes

Aug 9 - Sep 28, 2019

Santa Fe

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Press Release

The story of the American West is a mainstay of popular culture, and Western art is all about storytelling. Tales of the West explores the West of the imagination through the work of Michael Cassidy and Jamie Burnes.  
Nothing captures the drama of the Old West like Western pulp fiction. Michael Cassidy’s paintings vividly portray fictional, often sensational, versions of people, places and historic events of the West.  
I call these paintings "Western Pulp.” I like the look of the old Western "dime" novels, sometimes called pulp magazines, as well as early Western movie posters from the 1920s and ‘30s. These works are my idea of what the cover of a “dime” novel would look like on the scale of the old Western movie posters. I've used a few actual headers from those old magazines and combined them with earlier works of my own, originally produced in smaller formats. The story titles used in the paintings are real stories from those magazines, complete with their authors’ names. My works draw on these rich and varied sources. 
Jaime Burnes’s wood and metal abstracted animal sculptures remind us of our once seemingly endless Western frontier. Focusing on Western wildlife, such as bison, horses and coyotes, he portrays these enduring symbols of the Old West as unique individuals. Whether produced at the scale of a public installation or an intimate gallery, each work has its own personality and communicates with the viewer through material, form, and scale. 
Each work I make has a unique energy. Spending so much time together in the shop, the animals and figures become characters to me. Upon first glance a bison appears docile and amicable. A closer inspection reveals its fierce power and raw dominance. This duality is repeated in the materials and energy of the proud Boudicca: From afar she is life-like, while close up she displays a layering of materials, intricate spaces and deep patina. The tension is repeated through the natural, heartwood grain contrasting with the hand-forged metal. The harmony between these odd couples becomes a spirited being.