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Steamboat Magazine

Cowboy to the Core

06/01/2023 07:00AM ● By Steamboat Magazine
(Learning the Ropes | T.D. Kelsey | bronze | 8 x 14 x 21" | Photo courtesy of T.D. Kelsey)

From Steamboat Magazine Home Edition 2023

T.D. Kelsey has been described as a renaissance man. A rodeo rider, self-taught pilot, rancher, hunter, conservationist and perhaps most of all, an internationally famous sculptor, T.D. and his wife, Julie Oriet, are the focus of “Coming Full Circle,” Steamboat Art Museum’s summer 2023 exhibit. 

An emeritus member of Cowboy Artists of America, T.D. is the quintessential Western artist; fittingly, the largest collection of his work is housed at Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming.  

T.D.’s sculptures are authentic, impressionist and, some might say, romantic. T.D. describes his style as “loose,” a technique in which the artist’s marks are evident on the clay that will form the mold for the sculpture. 

“T.D’s work – besides demonstrating his knowledge of animals and anatomy – has a wonderful patina and texture. It’s very sculpted looking. The way he works the clay brings out the feeling he wants to convey, whether it’s action or no action,” says John Fawcett, chair of SAM’s exhibition committee.   

(A Splash of Light | Julie Oriet | oil on linen | 24x18” (30x24). Photo courtesy of Julie Oriet)

John, who is himself one of America’s most renowned Western artists, says Steamboat is in for a treat when T.D. and Julie come to town this summer. “They are both a couple of the kindest, gentlest, most interesting people.”

Julie, like her husband, was raised on a ranch in Montana. Her work is primarily pastel and oil, and depicts iconic Western landscapes with big Montana skies.  “I was drawn to her landscapes, the skies, the clouds, the vistas,” John says. “After she met T.D., she has expanded to include great figurative work and animals.”  

The couple travels the world to promote wildlife conservation and to study animals that will become models for their work.

T.D.’s love affair with Africa began 40-plus years ago with a four-day backpacking trip to Zimbabwe. His subsequent trips to the Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Cameroon have inspired works featuring Cape buffalo, kudus, lions, sables, warthogs and other exotic African wildlife.

Julie shares his passion for travel, wildlife and especially Africa. Her landscapes, as well as her figures and animals, exemplify her love for that wild continent. 

The couple’s combined talents in both Western art and African wildlife are exhibited in “Coming Full Circle,” which is on display at Steamboat Art Museum, 801 Lincoln Ave., this Friday, June 2, 2023 until Saturday, September 2, 2023. 

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