His vivid narratives often derive from classic country western songs and movies as inspiration. He says, “John Wayne, the Marlboro Man, and Monument Valley denote something uniquely American and iconic; and everyone from fashion designers to advertisers to pop stars use them to sell not only products, but an idea. Ironically most of these images and idealizations have little to do with reality and more to do with a romanticized mythos of the American West and its residents.” His portrayal of the West creates a reality not only infused with romantic iconography, but also with the contemporary issues such as the human impact on the frontier and a continued exploitation of an imagined culture.
The scorched and dry southwest, is replaced by a cold and austere (yet strikingly beautiful) mountain west. Although the geography of the paintings has changed, the people that populate these new pictures are essentially the same as before. They come with the same obsession for Western fashion and passion for romantic mythology. They position themselves in contradiction to place and environment. They are seen by swimming pools at high altitudes in freezing temperatures. They pose heroically in front of color filtered images of snowcapped mountains. They search for a temperament and a past that may not have ever existed, in vistas that feel like backdrops on a movie set.
Formally these new paintings focus on color throughout. The white snow covered mountains make for a perfect backdrop to be altered with color in order to coordinate with the sitter’s ensemble. Male and female versions of similar paintings use color to complement one another. Along with color, strong central compositions create heroic imagery for the paintings’ characters. All of this works together to produce images that feels like a glossy film still from an absurdly beautiful Western movie.
Tracy Stuckey received his BFA in painting from Florida State University and his MFA from the University of New Mexico. He has exhibited his work extensively throughout the United States, with numerous solo and group exhibitions, including shows curated by gallery owner Linda Durham and artist Joel Peter Witkin. He has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, most recently the Professional Development Grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. In 2009 he was an artist-in-residence at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, Utah. Also a professor, Stuckey has taught at West Virginia University, and most recently, Colorado State University. Tracy and his wife, artist Erika Osborne, live in Fort Collins, Colorado.