The cowboy on horseback is an iconic image from the 1940s with roots in the cattle drives that thundered across the state in the 1870s. The drives lasted little more than a decade but left an indelible mark on the culture of the American West that continues to this day. Beneath a hat designed to shade the sun and deflect the rain, the cowboy galloped from the trail into our artistic imagination, sparking stories in film, print and on canvas. Oklahoma’s most recognizable cowboys may be those who appeared on the silver screen, including the likes of Tom Mix, Will Rogers, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy, Ben Johnson and James Garner.
Kolbe Roper said he can’t remember a time when he wasn’t painting or creating art of some kind. He followed his passion to the University of Oklahoma where he earned an art degree. He then worked with Oklahoma’s Art in Public Places program until 2012.
The Cowboy is constructed from woven book paper – recycled encyclopedias with screen printing and oil paints. Roper describes his work as “process-based” and says he challenges himself to “construct identities while dissecting the elements of persona.” He donated this piece to the Judicial Center’s art collection.
Roper is a member of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition and was featured in their magazine, Art Focus in July 2010. He has had shows at Living Arts in Tulsa and Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery in Norman.