Sunday, July 22, 2012

Mick B. Harrison Paintings & the Deadwood Days of 76 Rodeo Poster Series

Images courtesy of Mick B.Harrison, they are copyright and digital media protected

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Mick B. Harrison and wife Noreen
“My paintings are inspired by people and places of the region where I live. I put a certain hardiness into each painting while keeping a fair amount of spontaneity. 

My style is slightly impressionistic in the American Golden Age of Illustration (1920 - 1940) sense. While artists of that period were considered illustrators, time has proven them to be some of America's most prolific and defined fine artists. I'm inspired by two of my favorite artists of that period, Harvey Dunn and NC Wyeth, both of whom studied under master painter Howard Pyle. 

Nearly all of my paintings deal with moments of time, those personal moments that pass quickly but are particular to the subject. My personal favorites are simple portrayals that
evoke a multitude of stories and emotions.

Enjoying a career that has spanned over 37 years, Mick paints from his studio near Belle Fourche, SD.
The Deadwood Days of 76 Rodeo Poster Series

An interesting historical activity is now completed and becomes a permanent display of the June 2012 opening of the Days of 76 Museum. 

Mick B. Harrison, famous Belle Fourche Artist, has completed his eight commissioned Days of 76 Rodeo Events Series Posters.  They were issued yearly, starting in 2003 up to 2009, then the final one in 2011.  At the end of this article, Mick shares a rare image presentation of the complete events poster series.  He tells me that the Days of 76 Museum and the Days of 76 Campgrounds offer poster copies for sale. The Museum offers a trimmed-down poster version and the Campground offers the full poster. How neat would it be to have a complete set of posters to hold as a collection? 

Mick agreed to a dhsclassmates interview that includes some artist details of the poster process, it spans this website article.

He is also a founding member of Artists of the Black Hills. Mick observed, “It was something I had thought about for several years. I thought it would be nice to have a forum for artists of similar abilities in this region to get together plus promote quality art in the area to a larger audience.”  A more extensive article about this Black Hill Artist organization will be posted soon on my website.

How did the initial poster series process start?
They were actually the result of brainstorming between me and Jon Mattson, Days of '76 rodeo committee member and the driving force behind the new Days of '76 Museum. He suggested we do something along the lines of old-time posters/panorama rodeo photos. With photos I took of the grandstand, crow's nest, etc. from the center of the arena, I incorporated past & present participants (generalized) associated with the Days rodeo, to include the Deadwood Stage, Belle Fourche Cowboy Band, teepees, etc. in the background.”
dhsclassmates has access to 4 of the posters on Facebook, I can see much of each poster is a repeat but each is an original painting.  I notice the sky is different and the repeat objects may vary slightly.  The center objects are all different, right? 
“The main focus of each is one of the events that take place in the Days of '76 rodeo.  

These recent four are not the actual rodeo posters. We did a remake for sales in the new museum gift shop using only the artwork, logo and slogan on an 11" x 22" size. At this time, this is the only four like this with plans to eventually do the other four in the future. 

The actual rodeo posters include the schedule of events and other pertinent info and are 17" x 25". They can be purchased at the Days of 76 Campground office.

How do you match the posters to a year? 
We started these in 2003 with the Bareback event, which is the first event in each rodeo. Each year thereafter the event was changed according to it's occurrence in the rodeo.”

How many years and posters? 
“The Events Series runs from 2003-2009, 2011. I've been doing the Days of '76 rodeo posters since 2001. The 2012 poster is out and shows an exceptionally high-bucking Saddlebronc in front of the Days crow's nest.” The crow’s nest is the elevated announcer’s stand.
What special interest objects did you add to the poster scenes?
I tried to include some past Deadwood characters or well-known person in the series so I sometimes placed them next to the stagecoach. Annie Oakley on the Bullriding poster, Poker Alice & Deadwood Dick on the Tie Down Roping poster, myself (in a moment of self-promotion) on the Team Roping poster. Incidentally that was the first year the Days of '76 rodeo promoted the Tough Enough To Wear Pink cancer program, hence the horseman with a pink flag in the background.”

dhsclassmates vividly remembers Days of 76 Rodeo Clown Benny Bender and his two mules.  He was a classic and their routines are well remembered by all that saw Benny, JoJo, and Cupid perform.  As noted above, Benny did not get painted into the Days of 76 Rodeo Posters, but there are rodeo clowns shown.  Mick did paint a tribute to rodeo clowns in 2003 called “The Clown Jewels”.  The original painting was autographed by the five depicted living rodeo clowns and auctioned at the Stockman Auctions.  The first print was also autographed by the clowns.

Duane Reichert, Jerry Olsen, Butch Lehmkuhler, and Steve Mowry, Flint Rasmussen

Mick also observed, “Having grown up during the era of the rodeo clown Benny Bender, his larger than life image left a lasting impression on me,” recalls Harrison. “When I was six years old I was lucky enough to be involved in a Benny Bender “skit” at a local rodeo, an event that I would always remember. So when the offer came from the BHSS Foundation to do a painting of contemporary rodeo clowns for their annual Limited Edition Series, I felt honored.”

He adds, “The Clown Jewels,” representing five outstanding and best-loved clowns, is a tribute to their lifestyle and profession but more than that, a source of pride for me - and that six year old boy of long ago.”

What are your general thoughts for the poster series? 
I'm very proud to have been a part of this series and the fact that the original art is now hanging in the new Days of '76 Museum where more people can see them is a bonus. The rodeo committee in Deadwood is one of the best around and is always a pleasure to work with, many having become good friends.”

Do you have comment on the final display of all the posters at the opening of the Deadwood Days of 76 Museum? 
The museum had a 'soft' opening in June 2012 and is planning a much larger grand opening next year so there will be a good deal of promotion at that time.”
One of the many things that impress dhsclassmates about Mick Harrison is his outgoing artist relationship that he has with friends.  How rare for a famous artist to share his talented painting process for works in progress and completed.  Each of his paintings has an interesting story and basis of why he paints them.  dhsclassmates also has  the pleasure to follow Mick on his Facebook page.

How do you define your unique relationship to interested friends?
While I do a very limited number of shows where I am present, I take part in selected shows involving my work along with other artists' work, locally and nationally. Website and word of mouth also.”

What is your process for painting?

I do thumbnail sketches first to work out the idea and composition, followed by a color pencil sketch for refinement and color scheme of the proposed painting. I use the color pencil drawing as a guide to directly sketch onto the canvas with a brush and thinned oil paint, usually pthalo blue or burnt sienna.”

You too can join Mick’s interested following on Facebook and become a friend.

Digital Images of the Days of 76 Rodeo Poster Series


Florida Beach Basics said...

what terrific artwork and what a terrific posting - thanks for sharing :) marge

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