2012 Honored Artist
Buckeye Blake is an artist whose experience as a working cowboy gave him firsthand knowledge of western subjects. His great grandfather was a pioneer Quarter Horse breeder. His father was a cowboy as well as government trapper who rode with the horseback border patrol. Blake grew up on ranches in California, Arizona, and Nevada, traveling the rodeo circuit with his father, and he remembers that everything they did concerned some form of livestock. “Hence, I know my subject, hoof, horn, and hock!” Blake’s mother was an artist herself and came from a long line of fine artists in England.
Blake has no formal training and began his artistic career painting scenery in Hollywood. He studied the works of Charles M. Russell and Maynard Dixon. His paintings and bronzes exhibit a fanciful, graphic style mixed with a taste for pop culture interpretations of western figures, especially cowboy and cowgirl iconography. He approaches traditional themes with humor, a strong sense of design, and a sunny palette, all of which give his work a lighthearted flavor. Blake captures the magnificent American West in a dramatic artistic style sometimes illustrated in his poster-like works in brilliant, bold colors and personal self-expression fueled by decorative shapes in his impression of the West. Blake is an important painter who successfully combines traditional with contemporary styles of western art.
Buckeye’s painting for this year’s show is based on the Montana resident and World Champion bronc rider, Fannie Sperry Steele and her trick horse Sultan. Fannie was the first woman inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Montana native in the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Fannie was a rodeo legend as well as the quintessential Montana: homegrown, determined, gritty, and most of all independent of spirit.
Blake’s life-size bronze of Charles M. Russell in downtown Great Falls, Montana, the heroic-size bronze of Kit Carson in front of the capitol in Carson City, Nevada, and a retrospective at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in 1993 demonstrate that his art is a breath of fresh air conveying a glimpse into the West we all love.
Born in 1946, Blake now lives with his wife, Tona, in Weatherford, Texas, where they raise Quarter Horses.
“I love the West as well as its history --- it’s a delicate balance in a hard land, an epic nuance in an incredible orchestration of light, shadow, color, and space. To begin to capture such a symphony is both sacred and humbling!”