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|Length:||56 minutes, 40 seconds.|
|Released:||July 1st, 1999|
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A dramatic story of the American West seen through the eyes of three preeminent artists, Artists of the West is a romantic lament of a bygone era. The film, created by KUED senior producer John Howe, paints a picture of the West of yesterday through the words and stories of artists Charles Russell, Thomas Moran, and Frederic Remington.
A stirring saga that plays like a nostalgic western movie, Artists of the West is narrated by actor Joseph Campanella, and is written by novelist Michael Ghiglieri (East of the Mountains of the Moon). Shot completely on film from New York to Arizona, the program offers spectacular, sweeping helicopter landscape aerials and time-lapse footage in addition to shots of the original works of art.
To producer John Howe, the medium of art lends itself well to storytelling through film. "Painting was the filmmaking of its day," says Howe. "These works of art provide us with a picture of the West as well as the region's myths - because paintings were emotional and romantic. But for every heroic moment captured on canvas, there was an equal amount of hard work, toil, and terrible times."
Divided into three segments, Artists of the West captures each painter's unique style and experience through commentary by some of the top scholars of Western art in the country. Viewers learn how Charles Russell, a quintessential cowboy, was ahead of his time in documenting the vanishing West and the Native Americans who would be swallowed up by settlement. Landscape painter Thomas Moran emerges as an artist pivotal in educating lawmakers in the East about the beauty and grandeur of what would become Yellowstone National Park. Illustrator and painter Frederick Remington is presented as an important recorder of significant moments in western history - from the Apache wars to the calvary's chase of Geronimo.
While the film distinguishes between each painter's unique perspective, it captures the beauty in all their works. "As a filmmaker, I am fascinated by the way these artists could capture light and shadow with such expertise," says Howe. "Over the course of this project I developed great admiration for their artistry and genius."
Beyond the stories of individual painters, the film is a chronicle of the American West the discovery, exploration, and ultimate taming of the region. "The film is a quest an emotional journey through history," says Howe. "The audience is meant to learn something educational in an exciting way."
Charles Russell, Thomas Moran, and Frederick Remington painted an era as it was vanishing before their eyes. Works by these artists offer an important visual record of the Old West - an era that only lasted about the lifetime of a single buffalo.
"On a broad level, I hope the film about this brief historical moment enables people to recognize and appreciate the time in which they live," says Howe, "because, as Artists of the West points out, change happens quickly."
Artists of the West is made possible by generous grants from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, the R. Harold Burton Foundation, and the C. Comstock Clayton Foundation. Jeff Elstad is the film's associate producer, and Ruth Miller is the production assistant.
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