Smoke Signals newsletter

    The West Today

As a follow-up to last month’s “Consider Yourself Cutting Edge,”
Jayne Skeff continues to find good news.

Metropolitan Museum of Art New YorkIs Mainstream America Finally Waking Up To The Richness Of The American West?
What the media has to say…

By Jayne Skeff

Well, the answer would seem, in short, to be yes. After just 200 short years in the making, it appears that the legacy of the West has finally come to the forefront in art and media in the most urbane of settings including New York and downward along the Eastern seaboard.

High Noon got its first hint of this trend a few years ago when luxury lifestyle magazine, The Robb Report, flew a writer out to Los Angeles to create a feature story around the richness of collecting Western saddles with additional follow-up stories on collecting Western Americana on their editorial calendar. The New York Times has featured numerous articles on this genre of collecting and most recently, the Wall Street Journal just completed a feature on the Wild West at Auction. And, a week doesn’t go by when there isn’t an inquiry from a TV production company looking for an angle to create a series on the wild world of Western America. It’s further interesting that most of these TV producers have been from London or New York and most recently, Paris. Well, it looks like someone in fact is watching and realizing what those of us in this world have always known.

When it comes to media attention, we all know money drives their interest, but there’s more to this than just that. In what could be considered a landmark move, for the first time since their doors opened in 1870, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will be featuring an exhibit of Western bronzes. Scheduled to open December 18, 2013 and titled The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925, this exhibit will feature the works of Remington, Russell, Fraser and Manship to name a few, and their artistic representations of the Native American Indian, cowboys, cavalry and pioneers.

To get some validation on this trend and some explanations as to why, we decided to talk to the media themselves. In a time when major mainstream glossy magazines are on the downward spiral, page counts slashed in half or discontinued entirely, the Western lifestyle and art magazines are thriving, bigger than ever with subscriber bases reaching into Europe.

Western Art Collector began publishing in September of 2007. In an interview with Joshua Rose, Editor of Western Art Collector, he noted that, since their premier issue, the magazine has at least tripled in size and their subscriber base has greatly extended to the East Coast. Joshua took the time to share his insights on what’s driving this “stampede” to Western art and artifacts.

Western America “is like the new world of the New World. As cities get congested, the quest for freedom and space becomes stronger. People begin to retreat into the West even if it’s just through art in their home for solace. We are so consumed inside a world of technology and, as Contemporary art just keeps getting more contemporary, I believe people need and want something they can actually connect with and understand. Something that doesn’t leave you feeling empty when you look at it or touch it but fills you with the warm fuzzies.”

In regards to Western art specifically, Joshua said that, “There seems to be a much greater awareness of the scholarship about Western art. People and collectors are beginning to understand that the Tenny’s and the Remington’s and the Taos artists studied with the masters in Europe. Western art is now being seen as American Fine art and that’s a big transition.”

He also chatted a bit about money creating this new mainstream interest. “When you get big names in the news spending millions on a Billy the Kid tintype and the national and international media frenzy that the Roy Rogers auctions created, it all fuels a new awareness in people who would have never looked twice at the Western world of art and antiques and the new works being created by contemporary artists and artisans.” He also commented, “just look at the fashion magazines, they are full of Western inspired clothes and that says a lot.”

In closing, he feels that America is moving toward quality versus quantity and there is a great desire to buy what is truly American and created by artists and artisans. “Just look at all the craft and local beers, all the restaurants that serve local foods – people are thronging to these venues. Whether it’s Western art created masters of the past or present, art in food, art in your local brewery or wine, make people thirst for and are beginning to deeply appreciate what is truly American. And, luckily for all of us, Western American art and its lifestyle is just that.”


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Mission Statement

Smoke Signals blows your way from High Noon Western Americana of Los Angeles, California, producers of the High Noon Antique Show & Auction for 25 years (1991-2014). Smoke Signals eMagazine was founded in 2010 from a desire to share thoughts and facts with the High Noon community and look at what is going on in the Western world while feeding our readers with great recipes and giving advertisers a chance to blow their own smoke.

And hopefully we educate along the way.

Linda Kohn Sherwood, Editor

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