|
|
|
Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Buck Taylor: Western mythmaker and romantic

  • It's the romanticism — the hard work done by hard people with ambitions that crossed the wide, beautiful expanses — not the blood-soaked tribulations expanded by myth, that drive actor and artist Buck Taylor's long relationship with the American west.
    • email print
      Comment
  • It's the romanticism — the hard work done by hard people with ambitions that crossed the wide, beautiful expanses — not the blood-soaked tribulations expanded by myth, that drive actor and artist Buck Taylor's long relationship with the American west.
    Taylor visited the town that helped make him famous over the weekend to assist the Boot Hill Museum protect western heritage. A lifelong painter, he donated for auction a watercolor depicting some of the western iconography that defined those days.
    "There's a lot of romance, and I like that," Taylor said. When he puts watercolor to paper, he hopes that's what comes through: the people, the places, the power of a thousand head of cattle controlled through a man and a horse and the power of will.
    For models, Taylor uses some of the longhorn he raises at his ranch outside Abilene, Texas; horses, too.
    The conflicts of the old west can't be ignored, he said, but it's important to understand the motivations between the clashes. Had he been born as a Native American, you bet he would have fought to protect his people's way of life, he said; as a settler, he would have fought for his family's future.
    And Dodge City, for a time, was the leading edge of a changing world and a changing nation.
    "Dodge City is a great American city," Taylor said at the museum's big fundraiser, Saturday. "If there's no Dodge City, there's no Gunsmoke."
    Dodge City is the cowboy capital of the world and its cattle heritage continues today, Taylor said. While the open range has long been fenced, tamed and the land itself turned into a tool to feed the world, Dodge City remains one of the most important cow towns in the world.
    As part of a cultural heritage that has had its bullhorns starting with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show through Zane Grey's pulp novels, Hollywood's white hat westerns, black hat westerns and into the grittier modern version of the western, "They created the great American myth of the cowboy," Taylor said.
    Taylor, too, has had a significant role in perpetuating the myth and truth of the Wild West.
    Including his long-running role roaming TV's Dodge City as Dep. Newly O'Brien in "Gunsmoke," Taylor's spur-booted presence on screen is almost as essential to the western genre as dusty roads, laconic leading men and swinging-door saloons where only stiff drink prevents food-borne illness.
    Taylor has more than 100 productions to his name, the majority of them westerns including the recent genre-bending "Cowboys and Aliens" and the instantly-classic "Tombstone" as Turkey Creek Jack Johnson, a pivotal character in the Wyatt Earp revenge story.
    "If you can create a character on film you can create a character on paper," he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - He has been painting watercolors for most of his life. The people he's worked with like the scene-stealing Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, and places like the Longbranch Saloon become subjects for his paintings.
    In others, he seeks to capture something essentially western, a moonlit newlywed couple riding horseback double, for example, or working cattle drivers.
    The inspiration comes easy, he said.
    "I have a love affair with the west."

    Events Calendar