Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Harry Bentz Cowboy Artist / Western Folk Artist

 Among outsider art enthusiasts, The phrase "real deal" comes up often. Those who have become familiar with the material know what it means.  It could be a certain look to the work. It can also be as much the artist's motivation as skill. Harry Bentz is what once would have been called the work of a Sunday painter or a folk artist.  An amateur. Maybe he was an American primitive.  Maybe not.    

Actually the most accurate label would be Cowboy Artist. Mr. Harry Bentz was the real deal when it came to roping, riding and even mining. A real cowboy who made art. Untrained, but highly motivated to learn and create. 

There are a few brief biographies. My guess is that Bentz found himself some time and started using it to make art. In the 1960s he painted what could be some 200 works. Along the way, he learned that through some primitive xerox (ayup) and a goofy photo stat process of some sort (ayup) he could make editions!  Of a sort. The cowboy took advantage of modern technology available to the common man.  Again speculating, I believe the artist wanted something to sell in a rack alongside his paintings at events.  How many of these could range into the hundreds.

As with many primitive painters, he used found material to paint on. Some were uneven, large boards.  Many of the sketches are on the reverse of used paper from the Bureau of Mines.   

Apparently Bentz was working on a book.  Among his papers are handwritten captions for "Sketches of the West" which would have been 60 pages.

The drawings would not have been shown art fairs, but at western events. In some ways, as far outside of the contemporary art world as one can be.  He fished, hunted, broke horses, played the guitar and took out pack teams as a hunting guide. In 1951 he became a member of the Rodeo Cowboys Association. He began serious painting while working on a ranch near Kennewick, Washington. Reflected in his work is the life he lived.
All paintings and drawings collection Jim Linderman.  


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