The horse is obviously panicked. The rider has taken a hard fall, and from the ground he can look up at the animal hanging in the air above him. The boar that caused this scene is shell-shocked and is standing his ground. The observer can only stand by helplessly and watch.
“Spooked” by Sid Burns suspends the action in bronze at the Leanin’ Tree Museum and Sculpture Garden of Western Art. As a travel deal, this one is great. There is no admission to either the museum or the outdoor sculpture garden. Just a few minutes from downtown Boulder and down the street from Celestial Seasonings, this museum is the pleasure of Leanin’ Tree founder, Ed Trumble.
Mr. Trumble has been collecting western art for five decades. He began his greeting card company in 1949 with his partner, Bob Lorenz. After Bob’s death in 1965, Ed took over the company and over the years expanded the line of fine art greeting cards. This museum is his way of allowing the collection to be seen, and not put in storage.
Two floors and several rooms are filled with paintings and sculpture. This is one garden where it is safe to get close to the mountain lion, wolves, and bears. Kids will love the burro standing in the sun, appearing to be waiting to go on his next adventure. When they see “Ironfire” the horse made out of spare parts and metal junk, they’ll love trying to find items they recognize.
Once inside, the friendly staff members greet guests and relay the rules: Don’t Touch. Those rules are just fine since there is no need to touch any of the work found in this wonderful space. We started in the room filled with Lloyd Mitchell’s whimsical paintings of cowboy characters trying to get to a saloon, or falling out of the saloon, their horses watching with amusement. The Gene Zesch wood carvings of ranchers trying to make ends meet are wonderfully expressive.
This collection is very broad, and Ed tells us that there are over 100 different artists. It’s not all Indians standing majestically in portrait. The styles range from the large, classic landscape canvasses of Bob Hughes and the more contemporary work of Gary Ernest Smith, painting ranchers and farms. A favorite is the work of John Schoenherr. He paints wildlife that seems to be wandering off the canvas in search of food.
Cast in bronze as Rooster Cogburn, John Wayne muses that sculptor Harry Jackson “Caught me and that hammer-headed horse of mine just right“. Jackson’s “The Marshall” depicts the scene in the meadow with Cogburn against the bad guys. You can nearly hear the dialogue and guns firing.
Add this museum to the list of places around Denver that are free to visit, don’t take much travel time, and can be enjoyed by older children and adults. Our visit of both the inside galleries and the outside sculpture garden took about 2 hours total. Here you can get close to the work, seeing how the paint is laid down or the nuances of the sculpture that adds up to the whole. If you see Ed Trumble among the paintings, ask which his favorite pieces are that day.
The museum is open every day except for Easter, July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. See the website for hours and directions. Photos are welcome outside and are prohibited inside.
Like this article? Click the subscribe button at the top of the page and get the latest articles in your inbox when they’re published.