Thursday, February 5, 2004
Jerry Palen, an artist best known for his ranch-life cartoon "Stampede," is finding inspiration in a new Wild West character -- the skier.
At this weekend's show, Palen will be showing a series of bronze lamps named after his good friends and part-time Steamboat Springs residents, Bill and Carole Ward.
Not a skier himself, Palen researched vintage ski imagery from the '40s and '50s.
"It just looked like the time when skiing was done for the sheer joy of skiing, when skis were made of real wood and not some synthetic carbon stuff, and ski poles were bamboo sticks with a piece of leather attached," he wrote in his artist's statement.
Palen chose two images, one named "Bill" and one named "Carole." The Wards have a summer home down the street from Palen in Saratoga, Wyo.
The skiing imagery is a step away from the usual artwork.
Palen grew up outside of Cheyenne on a cattle ranch.
His bronze sculptures of the cowboy lifestyle have piqued the interest of U.S. presidents. They represent an image of America that presidents have sent to heads of state all over the world. President Clinton brought one to Africa as a gift during his 1998 tour.
"Usually, the phone will ring on a Monday and it will be an official somebody from the White House," Palen said. "And they need a sculpture by that weekend. So I call up the foundry and try to soften them up."
The "Stampede" cartoon is printed across the country in rural publications such as The Fence Post magazine and cowtown newspapers. The cartoon features a couple named Flo and Elmo, their pickup and their range-chore antics.
Palen's work will be on display through February at the Wild Horse Gallery, along with the work of Joel Johnson, Linda Lillegraven, Vince Valdez, Lee Stroncek and Gail Sundell.