Cowboys & Indians

Michael Scott is re-envisioning the West with his flamboyant painting series Buffalo Bulbs Wild West. The artworks merge Western iconography like pistols, horses, buffalo, and fragments of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show with captivating tulips, referencing Europe’s tulip mana of the 1600’s when the price of Dutch tulips skyrocketed to an all-time high, then crashed. “we just experienced that same activity in terms of greed, in terms of future markets and selling,” notes Scott.

    In his narrative paintings, Old Masters meets Western Americana in surrealistic tableaus that contemplate the West as a  commodity for the taking. Take Abundance. Scott explains: “I view the West as a symbol for America, and the buffalo is an iconic portion of that symbol. The buffalo in it’s heyday couls sustain the entire Indian culture - it provided housing, clothing, food. The buffalo became a noble symbol of life in America.” The landscape behind the majestic bison? New Mexico’s Galisteo Basin, which happens to be Scott’s backyard.

    Born in Lawrence, Kansas, in 1952, Scott spent years painting in Kansas, Ohio, and Canada before moving to Lamy, New Mexico, in the late ‘90s and building a 2,000-square-foot studio with a 25-foot slanted pine ceiling and windows looking onto a vast landscape of sky and land. “There’s a freedom that the West provides,” Scott points out. “The landscape allows one to feel that sense of sublime. You’re very small in a  very big place.”

    His Buffalo Bulb’s Wild West series has been four years in the making, with each painting requiring hundreds of layers of successive translucent glazes and opaque paint to achieve the rich, saturated colors. Prices range from $1,500 for a small field study to $150,000, but if you are looking for something a little more wearable, Scott recently collaboratd with jeweler Coreen Cordova on a limited edition line of charms using images from the paintings. Says Cordova, “We have a shared vision of a romanticized view of the West, and it’s a colorful views.”

- Wolf Schneider