NAU Art Museum to feature paintings that mix pop culture with Old West


The American West has a reputation–bold, tough, lonely, untouched, strong, populated by men and women who share its characteristics. Although much of that image has been made up by Hollywood’s representation of the West, the ideal persists through legends like John Wayne.

Ralph Lauren and the 1 percent never really had a place in the idea of the American West, until Tracy Stuckey began painting.

Stuckey, a Colorado artist, has carved out a niche with his unique take on western art. His paintings offer satires of the exploitation of the region that began with the Gold Rush and today is embodied by elites donning chaps, cowboy hats and Pendletons on their way through the region–the “Ralph Laurenization of the iconic West and its characters,” he said.

Stuckey’s work is displayed at the Northern Arizona University Art Museum, offering members of the NAU and Flagstaff communities a chance to examine his works and draw their own conclusions about the ideas he portrays.

“The American West has always been as much an idea as a reality,” said George Speer, director of the NAU Art Museum. “Tracy Stuckey’s paintings investigate the region as a brand shaped by romantic images and as an imaginative territory embodied in iconic figures such as John Wayne and Butch Cassidy.”

“Stranger in These Parts” features the artist’s recent paintings, which combine seemingly paradoxical images–a man in a suit and tie on a horse as a woman in heels watches, picnickers walking away from a massive explosion, a nattily-dressed man standing atop the buffalo he’s killed.

The exhibition will be open Jan. 31 through March 4. Both the museum and lecture are free and open to the public. The NAU Art Museum is in Old Main, 620 S. Knoles on the NAU campus.

NAU Communications