Art of The Old West
To the casual observer his
paintings are exciting and colorful. To the scholars of the Western Era
they are benchmarks of authenticity. Such is the style of Till Goodan.
He was born Tillman Parker
Goodan in Eaton, Colorado on March 27, 1896. His father was
a true western pioneer, mayor of Eaton, publisher of its first newspaper,
and County Commissioner
for several years.
After moving to California in 1905 and
settling on a little farm that bordered the Michel Cattle Ranch, Till spent much of his boyhood with the Michel sons working
on their ranch. There he developed his expertise as a calf roper and the
skills of a working cowboy.
As a young man Till pursued endeavors that would initially callus his emerging
artistic hands. He worked for the famous Miller and Lux Ranch in California.
He packed mules and ran pack trains into the Sierra Mountains.
He broke horses and competed in local rodeos riding saddle broncs
and roping calves. And during the quiet hours he would draw pictures of
ranch life and the action of the rodeo. People began commenting on his
talents as an artist.
In 1917 he left the rodeo
circuit and turned his full attention to a career in art. He studied with
Roger Sterrett, William Paxton, and Dana Bartlett,
all highly respected California
artists. Till soon became a free-lance commercial artist doing work for
Grauman's Chinese and Lowe's Theatres, Helms Bakery and Security
Bank. He later assumed a position as Art Director for the Richfield Oil
Company. However, his first love was still the art of the old west, horses,
cowboys, and ranching. So, he left Richfield
and gave his full attention to the field of fine arts. He did oil paintings,
horse portraits, water colors and lithographs. He drew the Gene Autry
Comic Books. He illustrated and hand lettered a large collection of stories
about famous bucking horses, ranches, horsemen of the world, and western
gear. In association with W. C. Wentz, he started producing a complete
line of western gift wares, ceramics, bronzes, leather, paper, and fabric.
Till Goodan designs appeared in virtually every medium. But, the most
famous was the four lines of dinnerware produced by Wallace China: Pioneer
Trails, Longhorn, Boots and Saddles, and Rodeo. The "Rodeo"
pattern was a tremendous success. The wonderful action drawings of Rodeo
events surrounded by authentic cattle brands appealed to Westerners of
every persuasion. "Rodeo" dinnerware graced the tables of restaurants,
hotels, and ranches. Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and Bing Crosby owned sets
of "Rodeoware." Today all the dinnerware
patterns are prized collectibles.
spent most of his life in California. He established a permanent studio/home in Hollywood and over the years he owned a ranch near the town
along with a mountain retreat in the Sierras. He painted the California
landscape, but, many of his paintings reflect his love for the Arizona and New
Mexico desert. His artwork was always authentic
in every detail because he painted what he knew from first hand experience.
He enjoyed his western lifestyle
until the day he died. On May 24, 1958, while serving as Grand Marshall
of the Tulare California Rodeo, he succumbed to a heart attack while sitting
on his horse.
Till Goodan's name lives on
as his work is being recreated once again, most notably by Jacob Roberts
Inc. of Los Angeles. They ate producing fine silk neckties
copied from the twelve original patterns manufactured in the 1940's. They
are licensed by Betty Goodan Andrews, Till Goodan's, daughter and only
heir. Betty has licensed three other companies to reproduce Till Goodan's
work. She retains sole control of the Till Goodan name, likeness, voice
and signature as deemed by law in the states of Texas
and California. Much to the
delight and satisfaction for fans new and old of the early Western Era,
Till Goodan art is reemerging and finding its way back into their hearts.