Western Art: G. Harvey painting sells for $516,500

In paintings such as When Cowboys Don’t Change, artist G. Harvey encourages the viewer not only to see the physical elements of his subject, but also senses an over-arching mood.
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Among the western painters of today, there is none more capable of encapsulating this narrative than G. Harvey. In paintings such as When Cowboys Don’t Change, he encourages the viewer not only to see the physical elements of his subject, but also senses an over-arching mood.

When Cowboys Don’t Change

G. (Gerald Harvey Jones) Harvey (American, 1933-2017), “When Cowboys Don’t Change,” 1993, oil on canvas, 40 by 60 inches, signed lower right: G. Harvey. Signed, dated, and titled on the stretcher and reverse: When Cowboys Don’t Change / G. Harvey 1993. $516,500. Courtesy of Heritage Auctions, www.ha.com

Gerald Harvey Jones, better known as G. Harvey, grew up in the Texas Hill Country listening to his father and grandfather tell stories about ranch life and frontier days in Texas, all the while driving cattle across the Red River. His grandfather was a cowboy during the trail-driving era when legends grew up along the dusty trails north from Texas. Family stories of wild cattle and tough men were absorbed and became the genesis of G. Harvey’s art.

The artist's inspiration

A graduate in fine arts at North Texas State University, Harvey taught full-time and painted nights and weekends for several years. It was through painting that he found his greatest satisfaction, and his native central Texas Hill Country provided the inspiration for most of his earliest work.

Historic photographs reveal what the city looked like, but only an artist like Harvey enables a viewer to experience the mood and flavor of the time. Contemporary western art, from its roots in illustration art, has too often centered on the literal representations. Artists like G. Harvey take a step further, to offering subjective impressions unique to their experiences.

Measuring 5 feet across, When Cowboys Don’t Change tells the romantic story of the Texas cowboy surviving and thriving within the ever-changing terrain. Painted from a slightly lower vantage point, the cowboys at the center of the work appear virile and heroic. They seem unfazed and undeterred by the industry and oil derricks rising around them. It sold at Heritage Auctions on Nov. 8, 2018, for $516,500.

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