Victoria on November 21st, 2010

Colorado Springs Gazette Cover Art, November 12, 2010

Allen True’s West: New touring show celebrates Western art

“Allen True’s West”

When: Through Jan. 9

Where: Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.

Admission: $10, $8.50 seniors, military personnel with ID and students, members free; 634-5583,

Something else: From 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Victoria Tupper Kirby, co-author of “Allen Tupper True: An American Artist,” signs her book on her grandfather’s work at Black Cat Books, 720 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs.

Traveling exhibit of works by artist who ‘escaped notice’ stops at Fine Arts Center by T. D. Mobley-Martinez

Allen True loved the West.

“I have to stay here to pick up my training and knowledge of my craft,” True wrote his father in 1906, “but just as soon as it is possible I shall come back to my native Colorado and do my work. Someday I am going to paint some big western pictures — worth a place in our capital telling something of the Western Frontier life that I am so proud of being heir to.”

You can see that affection as well as artifacts of his journey from illustrator to muralist in “Allen True’s West,” a touring show that celebrates his work. Curated by the Denver Art Museum, the 42-piece exhibition opens at the Fine Arts Center today.

When it comes to Western art, names like Charles Russell and Frederic Remington generate the real wattage. Even today, True is largely overshadowed by the giants of the genre.

“We’re really looking back now and what we see, what we’re drawn to, is the artists that somehow escaped notice,” says Blake Milteer, Fine Arts Center museum director. “We find he was not only in demand (in his time) but doing work that others were looking to.

“He’s a more and more important force in Western art.”

Born in Colorado Springs in 1881 and raised in Denver, True began his education as an artist at the renowned Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. By 1902, he was one of the select group trained by the leading illustrator of the time, Howard Pyle. In that tutelage, True met lifelong friend N.C. Wyeth, a renowned illustrator and patriarch of three generations of artists. Before long, True’s work began appearing in magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post.

In stark contrast to Wyeth, True’s star rose slowly.

True bounced from Boston to the Springs before heading to Europe in 1907. There, he met British artist Frank Brangwyn, and became his apprentice on a mural for a historical London hall. 

The mural became his métier, and before his death in 1955, it was what he was best known for — not only his visions of a rustic West, but of one embroiled in contemporary questions around water, electricity and telecommunications.

Allen True saw a lot of value in depicting the way the West formed American identity,” says Milteer, adding that local murals include those at the Alice Bemis Taylor’s Day School, the state Capitol and the Denver Public Library. “You see a very bold indication of a West changing in his time.”

Colorado Springs Gazette Feature Story, November 12, 2010

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