New York State is
a long way east of the historic cattle trails, so for a Rochester boy growing up in the
1940s the West consisted of a Saturday matinee with Gene or Roy galloping across the
silver screen on their trusty steeds. As an art major in high school Ol' Don came
across some lithographs by the Montana cowboy-artist Charles M. Russell who painted the
life he lived in the 1890s and early 1900s. This exposure was to launch an interest
into the history of the Westward expansion and its personalities. Seeing the works
of New York artist-historian Frederic Remington and other turn of the century artists who
documented the opening of the West added fuel to the fire. And of course, who can
forget the adventures of Red Ryder and Little Beaver on the newspaper comic page. Ol' Don's interest in the
working cowboy and the Native American cultures has lasted over 60 years and has been the
inspiration for many of his paintings and carvings.
scholastic awards and a scholarship for his efforts (plus a great deal of encouragement
following his series of paintings and drawings based upon the movie "Shane")
convinced him the life of an artist was what he wanted. He went on to study at the
University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology but the 1950s collegiate
level for the field of art was intent on teaching the various schools of the abstract
movement. He became discouraged and frustrated and withdrew into industry but
continued to spend time at his easel or carving bench.
After moving to
Tennessee in 1971 he re-honed his artistic skills by taking the "Famous Artist's
Commercial Art Course". Over the years he has belonged to various art
organizations and was an active participant in many outdoor art festivals. As a
result his paintings and carvings are found in many areas of the eastern United States and
of 1999 he retired and is now devoting all his available time to his art
interests�Painting, drawing, carving and most recently,
traveling and teaching at wood carving events. A couple publshed articles about Ol' Don appear below.
Here's a short VIDEO clip of Ol' Don at Carv-Fest.