When local Prescott, Arizona artist George Phippen passed away in 1966 at the age of 50, he was in the process of finishing a sculpture he called Cowboy in a Storm. This complicated figure is a detailed piece in bronze and has all of the trademarks of his extraordinary western artwork: it’s accurate, funny and, just like George, larger than life.
And more than 50 years later, with the support of the local art community, including the Prescott Area Art Trust, Ed & Kathy Reilly of the Bronzesmith Fine Art Foundry and sculptor Debbie Gessner, along with generous contributions provided by The Harold James Family Trust, Jim Chamberlain of Sun State Builders and the City of Prescott, this very special piece has been reproduced in a monumental bronze for placement in the new roundabout at the Phippen Museum’s entrance on Highway 89.
Serving as a gateway to Granite Dells and Prescott, and a heartfelt welcome to visitors from far and wide, this permanent tribute to George Phippen is most appropriate and well deserved.
Naming a museum dedicated to Western art after George Phippen was a natural choice due to his inspirational character, artistic talent and influence on art of the West. His recognition as a co-founder and first president of the Cowboy Artists of America were also contributing factors. But the fact is, George was a born Western artist.
Ultimately, it was George’s keen sense of humor and lighthearted nature that endeared him to others. And he brought that aspect of his personality to his artwork, transcending the Western art genre and illustrating a basic commonality among men. But what he did best was to provide an everyman perspective that lets viewers share the humor in an otherwise bad situation and see a side of the American West that is both accurate and relatable. And that’s what Cowboy in a Storm achieves in a singular piece of artwork.
And on Saturday, May 26th at 11AM, the Phippen family, along with museum staff, trustees and local dignitaries, will proudly gather on the eastside of the historic Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza for a very special unveiling ceremony at the Phippen Museum’s 44th Annual Western Art Show and Sale (May 26, 27 & 28, 2018). The public is also welcome and encouraged to attend this heartfelt tribute to George Phippen and his inspiring legacy and incredible artwork.
Depicting real life situations and paying extremely close attention to detail was incredibly important to George. In fact, he once noted that the compliments he appreciated most throughout his career came from those who knew the details and said he got it right. In addition to his unwavering commitment to accuracy, he also developed an ability to capture just the right moment in a story with crisp action and a perspective that brought a smile to the observer.
All that can be said is, “You got it right, George!”
The Phippen Museum is located only a few minutes north of downtown Prescott at 4701 Highway 89 North. Their annual Western Art Show and Sale has been an extremely popular annual Memorial weekend tradition since 1974. For additional information on this or any other event at the museum, please call (928)778-1385, or visit their website atwww.phippenartmuseum.org.