Byron Wolfe, CA
Byron Wolfe was not the type of artist who painted the American West because the work sold well in galleries. He would have been a Western artist even if the collectors could be counted on one hand and only sailboats were selling. Wolfe painted the Old West because he loved the drama and color of that chapter in our country’s history.
Wolfe was born in Parson, Kansas, in 1904. As a youth, he worked on a ranch, “keeping water tanks filled, riding fence, and repairing the damage done to fences by restless bulls seeking strange pastures.” The margins of his school notebooks were filled with sketches of horses, cowboys, and Native Americans. After studying art at the University of Kansas, he worked for a publishing company as a freelance illustrator, and eventually as an art director for a Kansas City advertising agency. Wolfe’s interest in the West grew when he was commissioned to do a series of Western illustrations for the Goetz Brewing Company of St. Joseph, Missouri, and cattle scenes for the American Royal Livestock, and Horse Show & Rodeo, which were published in the Kansas City Star.
Michael Kennedy, who was then director of the Russell Gallery in Helena, Montana, soon became interested in Wolfe’s work. With Kennedy’s direction and help, Wolfe’s career as a Western artist got its first and most important boost. In 1966, Charlie Dye asked Wolfe to join the Cowboy Artists of America.
Wolfe’s studio was always filled with cowboy gear, guns, and Native American artifacts. He created his paintings surrounded by these many objects; constant reminders to him to keep his work as authentic as possible.
Source: Cowboy Artist of America
There’s Always One Cuttin’ Out
Artist: Byron Wolfe, CA (1904-1973)Description: Watercolor Sketch (1965) | Image Size: 9”h x 12”w; Framed Size: 14 ½”h x 17 ½”w
This small watercolor sketch from the artist’s personal sketchbook shows a cowboy attempting to turn a running longhorn steer. It is a task that cowboys face on an almost daily basis and one that artist, Byron Wolfe, was quite familiar with from his own days as a cowhand. The cowboy and steer are positioned in the center of the painting and gallop toward the viewer. Wolfe has presented the action in a realistic and dramatic manner and has produced a lasting image of typical cowboy work.
Cuttin' Out a Choice Cow
Artist: Byron Wolfe, CA (1904-1973)Description: Watercolor Sketch (1966) | Image Size: 9”h x 12”w; Framed Size: 14 ½”h x 17 ½”w
A member of the Cowboy Artists of America by invitation of one of the group’s founders, Charlie Dye, Byron Wolfe specialized in scenes of the historic and contemporary West. Born in a small town in Kansas, Wolfe worked on a ranch as a teenager and always had a passion for drawing western images. He received his artistic training at the University of Kansas and worked as a commercial illustrator and art director for many years before becoming a full-time professional fine artist.
In this small watercolor, Wolfe focuses the viewer’s entire attention on a Plains Indian in pursuit of a lone buffalo by presenting the two figures on an almost featureless background. The Indian and buffalo are shown running directly at the viewer. Wolfe has presented the motion of the two figures in a realistic and believable fashion and has captured the tension and drama of the moment as the hunter closes in on his prey.