An unlikely fascination for a boy from Brooklyn, rodeo became the subject of an extensive series of artworks and photographs portraying the spirit, intensity, and drama of the experience. Murray Tinkelman’s drawings of clowns, bull fighters, and livestock place us right at the scene of classic rodeo events, from roping and barrel racing to the perilous act of bull riding itself. His interest in the subject was inspired by his love of pulp fiction, 1940s movie westerns, and the opportunity to illustrate a series of book jackets for the novels of Zane Grey, whose stories presented an adventure-filled vision of the American frontier. Just after receiving his first western cover assignment, he saw a poster advertising a rodeo at Cimarron Ranch in Putnam Valley, New York, a short drive from his home. At the rodeo, Tinkelman shot photographs that served as reference for his period covers and as a source of inspiration for a series of personal drawings.
This intergenerational reflection on youth and experience has a Rockwellian feel, and invites the viewer to peer through the drawing’s fence slats to see beyond to their point of interest.