SOLO EXHIBITION | Jackson, WY
Thom Ross paints from the complexity of the Wild West. Through the freeze that finds most people blind to the layers of history. His compositions hold lived contradictions tight and true, never resolved as they so often appear in romanticized reflection. His heroes are real and fallible, weighted by conflict and complicity. For Ross, history is defined by those figures whose actions transcend reality to become mythical. Like the infamous characters involved in the Black Sox Scandal of 1919. By his hand, no one comes out clean: not the eight players for the Chicago White Sox who took bribes to throw the World Series; not the gamblers and the sportswriters who fed the frenzy; not the owners who ignored grievances.
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 he’s questioned constantly: Why does this episode continue to fascinate? 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.
“I try through my art to address the meaning of people and events of the Wild West in terms of their mythic importance,” Ross says, “which is way more important and powerful than the reality.”
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