Felice House’s paintings put women front and center, answering the provocative question posed on the artist’s website: “What if John Wayne were a woman?”
Film and television are perhaps most to credit for the popular idea of the cowboy. Iconic males like John Wayne, Alan Ladd, and Clint Eastwood helped define that onscreen persona. In the exhibition Face West, artist and Texas A&M professor Felice House switches up the image — and the imagery — and gives the popular idea of the cowboy a gender flip.
Currently on view in West Texas, the show features paintings that forgo typical female roles in media such as the damsel in distress or the hooker with a heart of gold. Instead, House’s paintings put women front and center, answering the provocative question posed on the artist’s website: “What if John Wayne were a woman?”
Click on the image above to view the slideshow.
Face West is a spinoff of House’s more expansive series, Re•Western. For this new exhibition, she has created large portraits that portray Western women — models she posed with hats, Westernwear, and prop guns — full of strength and power. The women appear as compelling female leads from the golden age of westerns; in fact, they are local actors and faculty colleagues who took on the roles House cast them in for the paintings, some of which are directly based on films such as Unforgiven.
“I’m placing women in the role of power in a way that we can also understand it,” House said at the opening of the show. In the handful of her works — including a movie poster commissioned for Last Stand to Nowhere, an all-female remake of Gunfight at the O.K. Corral — the power is palpable.
Face West is on view through September 7, 2019, at the Museum of the Southwest in Midland, Texas. museumsw.org
Photography: (featured) Gabriela Eastwood in Unforgiven, oil on canvas, 48” x 48”, 2019; (slideshow) Weiling Eastwood, oil on canvas, 48” x 48”, 2019, Gabriela Eastwood in Unforgiven, oil on canvas, 48” x 48”, 2019, The Ballad of Molly Scruggs, oil on canvas, 48” x 48”, 2019, Shanielle Dean in Giant, oil on canvas, 48” x 48”, 2019. Courtnay Wayne in Hondo, oil on canvas, 48” x 48”, 2019, Last Stand to Nowhere, oil on canvas, 60” x 40”, 2019, hand lettering by Ken Manthei.
For more information on Last Stand to Nowhere from writer-director Michelle Muldoon and producers Frances Flanagan, Maja Aro, and Victoria Angell, visit the short film’s Facebook page, Twitter page, and Instagram account.