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From Argentina and England to the plains of Iowa, the artists represented in The River Flows hail from across the globe, bound together by their passion for the American west and choosen medium. The Phippen Museum’s The River Flows: Watercolors of the American West Exhibition & Sale showcases the talents of top contemporary Western watercolorists.
Many of these artists bring a new style, subject or technique to the world of western art never before seen. Texan Teal Blake’s authentic western scenes make their home not on canvas, but on antique invoices meticulously found from agriculture-related companies. Nelson Boren exquisitely combines the unexpected, placing a chapped cowboy on a motorcycle and focusing on the melding of leather and metal. Don Weller has brought his horseback adventures to canvas, painting cowboys across the nation in their natural environment.
Additional artists included in the show are Morten E. Solberg Sr., Tom Perkinson, Ian Ramsay, William Matthews, Roland Lee, Jim House, John Fawcett, Dean Mitchell, Kathy Sigle, and Joseph Oakes Alleman
Among these esteemed artists, is Kansas’ Marlin Rotach. Marlin grew up surrounded by horses, cowboys, billboards and paint brushes. His father, a commercial artist and stock horse trainer encouraged Marlin to paint his passion. Marlin did just that, combining his interest in the west with his talent and absorption in bringing the impact of light alive in his paintings. “I changed the way I use watercolors. Traditionally you go from lightest to darkest color, but I start with dark and layer the colors,” he says. “The transparent aspect of watercolor particularly suits it to me purposes.”
In addition to the exhibit and sale, Marlin Rotach and Don Weller have combined their expertise to published a book of the same name, The River Flows: Watercolors of the American West. The book highlights the watercolor masters of past and present. Overall 41 artists are represented in large, beautiful, full page works.
About the Phippen Museum
Local artist and first president of the Cowboy Artists of America, George Phippen, passed away in 1965 at the age of 50 and never saw the museum that bears his name. But being a man dedicated to his Western art and supportive of others in like pursuit, he would no doubt be proud of the role the Phippen Museum plays today in the continued presentation, promotion and preservation of Art of the American West.
When the plan for a Western museum was first initiated in 1974, it was George’s friends, family and fellow artists who raised public support and the funds necessary for the project. With their enthusiastic backing, the community’s heartfelt generosity and funds raised through an annual Western art show and sale, the museum was finished and opened its doors to visitors in 1984.
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