Southwest art is any form of artistic creation inspired by the tradition of the American Southwest region. This region includes California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and often includes Texas, Oklahoma, and the bordering region of Mexico to the South. Historic art featuring cowboys or indigenous people of the Southwest region traditionally focuses on the various components of life during the ‘Wild West’ era of the late 19th century.
Southwest art focused on the life of settlers during the period American expansion depicts these people in a wide array of settings. While the stereotypical picture features a dry and dusty scene, they can be as varied as the diverse land region it represents. Environmental scenes including forests, mountains, swamps, grasslands, as well as deserts are commonplace. Indoor settings such as cabins, tents, or other types of architectural structures can be depicted as well.
One recurring theme of Southwest art of the Wild West era was the culture clash between Native people and settlers. Whether that moment captured by the artist focuses on a positive cultural interaction or a scene of violence, the clash was a very real and potent reality of the era. Paintings of Native Americans hunting with rifles or trotting home with goods from a trade meeting shows the exchange of ideas and materials that was part and parcel of the times. The greater narrative of the tragedy of millions of Native people at the hands of colonizers, settlers, and disease has also been portrayed in poignant paintings as well.
Many artists highlight the simple humanity of individuals, families, or other settings of somewhat prosaic human relationships. Depictions of a young boy getting his hair trimmed by his sister, a mother combing her daughter’s hair, or two friends staring off into the sunsetting horizon. These simple moments connect the observer to the past—are we really so different from these people living less than 200 years ago? Could we not imagine ourselves as any one of the humans engaged in a moment of humanity? The talented artists featured by Fine Art Publishing often move the observer to connect in intimate ways with the subjects of the painting.
Southwest art often captures the wild nature of the era and the land. From the beaches and greenery of California to the baking dust of Nevada to the mountains, forests, and valleys spread throughout the region, the American Southwest was (and in many ways still is) a diverse and untamed land. Settlers to the region were hardened and gritty by necessity. Surviving and settling in a new land was a matter of life and death. And the interaction between Native people and the newcomers often elicited a survival mentality leading to violence. This wildness and riskiness cannot be avoided when viewing people of the era depicted in art. The theme of death is unavoidable even in the most mundane of domestic scenes. The thematic potential is without limit when it comes to Southwest art. To find the right piece for you contact us at Fine Art Publishing today.