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    RAY SWANSON (American, 1937-2004)
    Shearing the Churro Sheep, 1979
    Oil on canvas
    50 x 60 inches (127 x 152.4 cm)
    Signed lower right: Ray Swanson CA
    Signed, titled, and dated verso: 1979 - Shearing the Churro Sheep / Ray Swanson CA '97

    Having grown up on a farm himself, Ray Swanson was acquainted of the hard work needed to gain sustenance from the land. Such an upbringing gave him a unique insight into the daily lives of the many different Indian people that he painted throughout his career. Although he traveled widely in Indian country from the high plains to the deserts of the Southwest, he turned most often to the Navaho for artistic inspiration. Swanson began visiting Navaho reservations in the late 1960s, when he had already developed considerable artistic skill. He had honed his ability to paint landscapes and still lifes, which helped him develop the ability to paint detailed and sensitive portraits. His goal in each portrait is to present the character and personality of the person portrayed, to give the viewer a sense of who the person is. As he said, "I try to understand who each person is before I paint him or her. I then paint each person just he or she is, not as I wish them to be."
    Ray spent many years visiting the reservation and he developed close friendships with many of the people he painted. He did so by respecting their traditions and learning the ways in which they have survived off the land for several centuries. In paintings like, Shearing the Churro Sheep, Swanson paints a traditional spring activity from the perspective of one who has seen many such occurrences. In fact, Swanson has been a participant in such shearings on numerous occasions. The people and scenes that he paints are real people going about their daily tasks. Swanson became such a trusted visitor to the many families that he portrayed in his paintings that he gained access to areas of the reservation that few outsiders ever saw. The people in this painting were familiar to Swanson. For example, the woman in the orange blouse, kneeling to shear the sheep with a hand tool, was the subject of several paintings. In this instance, even at the age of 84, she worked alongside the other women all day until the job was completed.
    Swanson was first attracted to the reservation because of his lifelong interest in the Native cultures of the world. When he first visited the Navaho reservation, he was immediately struck by the colorful clothing of the people there, the persistence of long held traditions that were still adhered to, and the quality of the bright Southwestern light that added a sense of high contrast to the surroundings. When he first began painting there, he did not think that those traditions of dress and daily life would be as fleeting as they have been. He did not set out to be an historian of a rapidly changing lifestyle, but in many ways that is what his paintings represent, a snapshot of another time. He said, "I didn't realize at the time how quickly the changes in dress and daily activities would come, that I would be sketching and painting history. Luckily, I was able to be there when the dress and activities were still very traditional."
    Swanson was elected to the Cowboy Artists of America in 1986 and remained a member until his death 2004. During those years, he produced many exceptional paintings of the American West, ranging from scenes such as this one to cowboy life on modern ranches. In each case, the viewer of his paintings gains an insight into the real people and real events that he portrayed.

    Condition Report*: Very good condition.   Framed dimensions: 65x75
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2010
    20th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,405

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    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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