‘Cattle Track Legends’ exhibition coming to Scottsdale gallery

It is fitting that a property so rich in history, dating from the 1930s when George and Rachel Ellis purchased the land and grew it into today’s Cattle Track Arts Compound, was and is the homes and studios of three of Arizona’s most iconic artists, Philip C. Curtis, Fritz Scholder and Mark McDowell.

Scottsdale’s Larsen Gallery has the honor of hosting Cattle Track Legends with Mr. Curtis’s striking portrayals of the “real and unreal” in his magic realism paintings as well as Mr. Scholder’s 1970’s “real Indians” depicted in paintings and works on paper.

The gallery will also host the drawings on birch wood by Mr. McDowell, according to a press release. This exhibition will coincide with “Super Indian: Fritz Scholder” which opens up at the Phoenix Art Museum on Feb. 26, and features many of his most iconic 1970’s works.

Mr. Curtis was a founder of the Phoenix Art Museum and the museum’s Ullman Center is dedicated to his work with an ongoing display from the museum’s extensive collection of his work.

Mr. McDowell will be included in a group exhibition at the Tucson Museum of Art titled “Into the Night: Contemporary Art and the Nocturne Tradition” from Feb. 27 thru July 10, and includes two of his works including the painting “Fire Hydrant, Night Skies.”

Enigma is a word often associated with Mr. Curtis’s psychological paintings which have been stated they often leave more questions than answers to the viewers, the release stated. His more than 500 paintings and many more drawings and watercolors, as well as his influence on a host of local artists, deemed him the dean of Arizona artists. Mr. Curtis lived at Cattle Track from 1947 until his death in 2000.

Mr. Scholder was also an enigma in that he never wanted to be known as an “Indian painter” and yet his most sought after works are his early paintings showing what he termed “real Indians” where clichés were broken down and Natives were often portrayed in contrast to the romanticized images of past.

His signature images became Indian cowboys, Native Americans wrapped in American flags and other controversial images such as “Indian at the Bar,” depicting a Native American with a Coors can of beer. Mr. Scholder moved to Cattle Track in 1972 and lived there until his death in 2005.

A relative newcomer to the Cattle Track Arts Compound compared to Mr. Curtis and Mr. Scholder, Mr. McDowell moved to Cattle Track in 1994.

He built his own home on the property using recycled materials from various sources. He has maintained his painting and drawing studio as well as founded Tiny Satellite Press for the publication of artist’s works including books, catalogs, portfolios and photographs in tiny editions ever since.

Mr. McDowell was friends with both Mr. Curtis and Mr. Scholder and collaborated with Mr. Scholder to produce his last etchings prior to his death.

Scottsdale’s history is enriched with the story of the formation and expansion of the Cattle Track Arts Compound from the 1930’s till today, the release stated.

Many artisans, writers, performers and even statesman have lived, created or performed on the Cattle Track property.

The collaborative and artistic efforts of the Ellis family, beginning with George and Rachel and continuing with their daughter Janie, have provided countless artists to thrive in the desert with notables Philip C. Curtis, Fritz Scholder and Mark McDowell among them.

The exhibition is to be at the Larson Gallery Feb. 11-March 31, with an opening reception at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11.

For more information visit www.larsengallery.com.

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