BY CRAIG COUILLARD
In the late 1800s, the western art genre morphed from artists like Charlie Russell, who captured scenes he witnessed or his cowboy friends told him about, to more fictional tales in what would become known as dimestore western novels.
Early western movies and TV shows perpetuated this ‘imagined West’ with depictions of rough and rugged men, beautiful ranchers’ daughters, vicious outlaws, proud pioneers, barroom brawls and wild horse chases.
The famous line from John Ford’s 1962 movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance captures the spirit of this breed of writers: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” This portrayal began to embody the ideas of the West we recognize today with as much fiction as fact.
Often described as a “throwback” artist, Cyrus Walker from Helena, Montana, keeps these unique and refreshing pulp art images alive.
Cyrus’ art career initially saw him designing rodeo posters, but as a long time fan and collector of old western novels and comic books, he took the plunge seven years ago and hasn’t looked back.
Fueled by the Easterner’s desire to read about anything happening on the vast and exciting Western frontier, it’s only fitting that today, galleries in New York are discovering Walker’s work with further expansion out East on the horizon.
“It worked for Charlie Russell, maybe getting into New York will work for me,” quipped Walker.
Walker has a keen desire to preserve and perpetuate pulp art. It may not have yet found a wide audience, but seeing a young artist carving a trail in the Western art world is refreshing.
You can see more of his work at CyrusWalkerArt.com.