The real estate developer Harry Culver developed Culver City, California in 1913. It was incorporated in 1917. Culver declared “All roads lead to Culver City” and soon, ”Rome on the Pacific” became “The Heart of Screenland,” the home of MGM Studios and Hal Roach Studios in the 1920s and ’30s. The Chamber of Commerce grated that the city didn’t get the proper credit in the films that were made there and adopted the slogan “Culver City, Where Hollywood Movies are Made.” Today Culver City is still an important hub for film and television as well as a mecca for contemporary art.
What better place for Bill Schenck—Western movie buff, painter, collector and horseman—to have his first Southern California exhibition in nearly two decades? As Beau Alexander of Maxwell Alexander Gallery says, “Bill eats, drinks and sleeps the lifestyle depicted in his work.” Schenck’s studio at The Double Standard Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico, is across the lawn from his home, which contains a museum-quality collection of prehistoric Native American pottery and premodern paintings from the Taos Society of Artists. Just down the path, ranch sorting events take place monthly from April to October when riders on horseback sort cattle from the herd and drive them into a pen.
Schenck is spending less time on horseback and more time in his studio where he produces his colorful scenes of the West often based on stills from his beloved Westerns. He often begins with movie stills that he breaks down into their graphic, compositional elements, then builds them up with color. The areas of flat, often brilliant and exaggerated color abut each other and are not blended. He calls this graphic quality his “Paint-by-Number System.”
His vitality is inescapable and, from time to time, his humor bubbles to the surface as in Danny & Geoff, a paradoxical reminder of the absurdity of the bad old days when the cowboys were always portrayed as the good guys and the Indians as the bad guys.
Schenck’s love of the West—its landscape, its people and its animals—is inescapable and infectious.
The Gallery Says . . .
“This show marks Schenck’s big return to exhibiting in L.A. It has been a couple of decades since his last major show in Southern California. Schenck is one of the rare artists who crosses over to such a large audience, from contemporary art collectors to traditional Western art collectors.” —Beau Alexander, director, Maxwell Alexander Gallery