When the Fences Rise, What Pastures Be Mine

Oil painting of American Indians on horseback with a tree in the foregroundoil on linen, 16 x 20, $4200

A year ago I was invited by the Brinton Museum to stay out on a ranch west of Sheridan, WY, and generate ideas for paintings. South of the ranchhouse I was staying in was a lone tree on a grassy rolling hillside. Behind the fence and to the side of it were “bob” wire fences, the tree being at the intersection of them. I was drawn again and again to walk out in the pasture and just watch this tree, and the many different interplays of light that shone upon it. I also thought a lot about fences, their symbolism, and what they represent to many of us. One afternoon I watched a rainstorm move in off the Big Horn Mountains, the light brilliant on the hillside, the southern sky moody with dark storm clouds, as if an onslaught of inevitable fate. I thought about the Lakota and Cheyenne peoples who once called this home before the fences drove them into a different kind of existence. I thought about myself, and the predicaments most all humans find themselves in… how we get “fenced” and driven to circumstances, not of our choosing, never sure what pastures we finally call home.

The Watchman, Ken the Kid

Oil painting of a man walking in front of a white barn

oil on linen, 18 x 24, $5900

The American West yet today, despite it being the twenty-first century, is still filled with legendary western characters. One such character is a good ole’ New Mexico fella by the name of Ken Schuster. Ken is the director of the magnificent Brinton Museum near Big Horn, Wy. The “Brinton” is an architectural masterpiece containing world-class collections of Western Art and Native American items, set on the breathtakingly beautiful Quarter Circle A Ranch, at the base of the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming. Ken not only oversees the Museum, but he also keeps an “eye” on the many historic buildings on the ranch. Having been the guest of Ken and wife Barbara on several occasions, I recall Ken rising several times from the supper table, grabbing a flashlight and heading out to “make sure those damn coyotes haven’t broken into the hen house”! Which is to say he keeps an eye on everything from priceless artifacts and artwork to the many facets of chicken production. The Museum as it now exists is the product of many years of labor on Ken’s part, and his undying commitment to the culture and history of the American West. He deserves commemoration in a painting…I like to think of him as “Ken the Kid”, a truly legendary western character!

Born and raised in rural southeastern Colorado, Michael Ome Untiedt maintains a studio in Denver. Through the color, brush strokes, and symbolic subject matter of his paintings, he attempts to examine the human predicament and its connections to the landscape, relying on a lifetime steeped in the traditions and history of the American West. Traveling widely, he is known as a painter that sees with a Westerners’ eyes.   He was recently made an honorary Ranger captain with the Former Texas Ranger Foundation, Fredericksburg, TX for his historical paintings of the Texas Rangers. He was awarded the 2014 Art Committee Choice Award during the Briscoe Museum’s “Night of the Artist” Art Show, San Antonio, TX and the 2014 Wells Fargo Gold Painting Award at the Buffalo Bill Art Auction, Cody, WY.

His work may be viewed on his web site, www.michaelomeuntiedt.com and at the following galleries:  Settlers West Gallery, Tucson;  Insight Galleries, Fredericksburg, TX;  Sanders Art Galleries, Tucson;  West Lives On Gallery, Jackson, WY;  and Manitou Galleries, Santa Fe.