Film Spotlights Prescott’s Western Artists

by Blake Herzog

A documentary film paying tribute to George Phippen and the Western art scene he sparked in Prescott has been released and is airing on the City of Prescott’s Channel 64. 

Prescott, AZ: Mecca of Western Art was directed by Prescott resident John Krizek and is the last of a series of short films on local history he made for the Prescott Community Access Channel, which shut down at the end of last year and transferred its assets to the City. 

“I was really glad to get it done before the station went away,” Krizek says. 

The 38-minute Mecca began as the story of creating Cowboy in a Storm, the 14 ½-foot bronze sculpture installed in 2018 at the roundabout in front of the Phippen Museum. It was enlarged from a 16-inch bronze figure that was Phippen’s last work before he died in 1966. 

Phippen was a renowned Western painter and sculptor who was the first president of the Cowboy Artists of America. The museum named after him opened in 1984 after 10 years of planning and fundraising.

Krizek says City Councilman Steve Sischka suggested the documentary be expanded to include other local Western artists, so local sculptor and historian Bill Nebeker is the primary “talking head” and Joseph Robertson, Sarah Phippen, John Coleman, Doug Hyde, Bill Cramer and several other artists are featured. 

John Krizek

Plans to hold a premiere for the film at the Elks Theatre in downtown Prescott over Memorial Day Weekend 2020 had to be scrapped, but Krizek says he hopes it can be pulled off this year. 

“The objective is to get as many of the artists there as possible to be acknowledged and to really kind of make an impact on this town, that here is this tremendous reservoir of renowned Western and cowboy artists who live and work around here. And most the town doesn’t really know it. In fact, some of the participants don’t even recognize the depth of that art quality to this town,” he said. 

A 90-second trailer is online and the DVD is available at the Phippen Museum, Prescott Western Heritage Center, the Prescott Chamber of Commerce’s visitor center and Krizek’s website, www.forgottenjourneyprod.com