When a topic grabs hold of him, he researches widely and deeply—as he has done with the Black Sox. Over the course of nine months, he’s read voraciously, some 30 fiction and nonfiction books on the subject. He’s drawn incessantly, not only the players themselves but the judges and juries and even their wives. And he’s questioned constantly: Why does the story continue to fascinate? What is the through line that makes it resonant today?
The answer: There’s more to such stories than the material. There’s space for him as an artist to articulate truths. To comment and critique. His is a realm of metaphors and allegories, symbols and signs. A realm he shares with the likes of Herman Melville. A realm more immense than the slick scrim often found onscreen and in print.
His paintings make his inquiry feel contagious. Confronted by his “Custer’s Last Stand; After Becker,” the viewer must consider the representational lineage preceding this painting—the mythical undertones that have inflated a minor fight into a battle of ancient and Biblical proportions. At many points in history, minor skirmishes have become massive metaphors of heroism. And yet, in modern conversation, the name of Custer incites insults not insight into why his fame remains eternal. An educational opportunity shuttered by dismissiveness.
Ross’s paintings are the dramatic foil to such unexamined reactions: “I try through my art to address the meaning of people and events of the Wild West in terms of their mythic importance which is way more important and powerful than the reality.”
Our exhibition of new work by Thom Ross from September 24 to October 6 at Altamira Fine Art in Jackson, with a reception held from 5:30 to 7:30pm on September 27. For more information on the exhibit, please contact Altamira Fine Art by email (connect@AltamiraArt.com) or phone (307-739-4700).