DescriptionG. (Gerald Harvey Jones) Harvey (American, 1933-2017)
When Cowboys Don't Change, 1993
Oil on canvas
40 x 60 inches (101.6 x 152.4 cm)
Signed lower right: G. Harvey
Signed, dated, and titled on the stretcher and reverse: When Cowboys Don't Change / G. Harvey 1993
PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN
Acquired by the present owner from the above, 1994.
In some parts of the rural West, cowhands still do the same chores and meet the same challenges that they performed a hundred years ago. From the turn of one century to the turn of the next, basic life has changed little. Herding cattle, worrying about drought and water, mending fences, dealing with extreme heat and cold, still needs to be done by the cowhand, who himself has not changed. For him, being a "cowboy" is more than a dream. It is a reality he faces every day and night with inner strength as his greatest asset. Among the western painters of today, there is none more capable of encapsulating this narrative than G. Harvey. In paintings such as When Cowboys Don't Change, he encourages the viewer not only to sees the physical elements of his subject, but also senses an overarching mood.
Gerald Harvey Jones, better known as G. Harvey, grew up in the Texas Hill Country listening to his father and grandfather tell stories about ranch life and frontier days in Texas, all the while driving cattle across the Red River. His grandfather was a cowboy during the trail-driving era when legends grew up along the dusty trails north from Texas. Family stories of wild cattle and tough men were absorbed and became the genesis of G. Harvey's art. A graduate in fine arts at North Texas State University, Harvey taught full-time and painted nights and weekends for several years. It was through painting that he found his greatest satisfaction, and his native central Texas Hill Country provided the inspiration for most of his earliest work.
With the development of his talent and the growth of his following, Harvey began to expand his artistic horizons. He left teaching and concentrated on a career in fine art. He sought the essence that is Texas and found it not only along the banks of the Guadalupe, but in cow camps west of the Pecos, and in the shadows of tall buildings in big Texas cities.
The streets of Dallas once echoed with the sound of horses' hooves and the jingle of spurs. Historic photographs reveal what the city looked like, but only an artist like Harvey enables a viewer to experience the mood and flavor of the time. Contemporary western art, from its roots in illustration art, has too often centered on the literal representations. Artists like G. Harvey take a step further, to the offering subjective impressions unique to their experiences. Harvey was a soft-spoken and unassuming man who cared deeply about what he painted, without becoming maudlin or melodramatic. One senses there is more in each Harvey painting than what is confined to the canvas.
Though Harvey has enjoyed nearly two decades of sell-out shows, an outstanding honor came in 1991 with a series of one-man shows in Washington, D.C. in 1991: The National Archives featured his paintings of the Civil War era; the Treasury Department, a selection of paintings of notable Washington landmarks; and the Smithsonian Institution, 35 paintings in "The All American Horse."
Harvey's work was on display at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from 1992-1997. In 1987, his alma mater honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Award. One of Harvey's paintings was featured on the cover of the Smithsonian Institution's 150th anniversary engagement book. It was during this prosperous period, in 1993, that the artist executed the present tour-de force. Painted on a grand scale and measuring five feet across, When Cowboys Don't Change tells the romantic story of the Texas cowboy surviving and thriving within the ever-changing terrain. Painted from a slightly lower vantage point, the cowboys at the center of the work appear virile and heroic. They seem unfazed and undeterred by the industry and oil derricks rising around them. When Cowboys Don't Change is an iconic, powerful representation of the traditional American West. So much so, in fact, that reproductions of the present work are in high demand, and are some of the most popular cowboy posters found online today.
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