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Coeur D'Alene
by R. Tom Gilleon

“The study of tipi rings has picked up significantly in the past few years. These circles of stone can be found throughout the West and I have a number of these rings on my ranch in Montana. It is believed that the stones were used to hold the skins that made up the lodge coverings securely on the ground,” explains Tom Gilleon.

“There is a significant difference in the size of these rings, thus the size of the dwellings. This increase of size often coincides with the arrival of the horse in North America. A tribe with tamed mounts not only ranged further and hunted better, they could now move larger and heavier items as well. Early Spanish explorers noted the extent to which the Indians employed dogs as their beasts of burden. Even a large dog could pull only a fraction of what a horse pulled or carried. Therefore, tipi rings are often referred to as dog or horse rings, depending on their size.

“There are two buffalo and a horse adorning the lodge in Coeur d'Alene. The horse is painted over (or imposed over) one of the buffalo to signify the extent to which the horse allowed the Plains People to dominate their hunt of the buffalo. I couldn’t tell you for sure that this type of lodge would have been found in the Coeur D’Alene area or not, but this sunset certainly was. It was a relaxing and gorgeous end to a beautiful day in that area of Idaho. As I watched the sun go down I couldn’t help but think of how the same scene would have appeared when the area was even more tranquil and slightly less developed some 150 years ago.”

Tom Gilleon’s contemporary vision of the West weds perfectly representative and abstract art. Most of his compositions are simply a series of vibrant triangles, squares, circles and rectangles. The Native American subject matter provides a narrative accessible to everyone. Red Bull II, Early Snow and Little Star People have all Sold Out at Publisher. Coeur d'Alene will certainly prove to be as popular, so order this wonderful Fine Art Edition before it, too, disappears.

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Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Giclée Canvas:

limited to 50 s/n. 24"w x 24"h. $595  

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About R. Tom Gilleon

“Looking back, I was probably most influenced by the old era art directors and illustrators who had the amazing ability to quickly and simply tell a story or convey a feeling with their artwork. I believe that this simplicity and strength is the key to fine art. Light, color, value, composition and line are paramount in importance.” – R. Tom Gilleon

R. Tom Gilleon’s art is hard to pigeonhole. His interpretations of the American West are genuine and unique. His representations of native teepees are archetypal and primitive in their basic forms yet they are remarkably contemporary in composition with a sprinkling of personal symbols and humor. Gilleon’s work is coveted by collectors, increasingly finding homes in prominent museums and auctions such as the Coeur d’Alene.

Gilleon was born in 1942 and raised in Florida by his grandparents in the tiny outpost of Starke, near Jacksonville and the storied banks of the Suwannee River. His grandfather had immigrated to the United States from Scotland and became a renowned cabinetmaker. His grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee.

Gilleon earned a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Florida where he took courses in architecture. He served in the Navy in the early 1960s and then worked as an illustrator for NASA’s Apollo space program. Eventually, he went solo as a freelance illustrator based in Orlando and was hired by The Walt Disney Corporation to deliver conceptual sketches and designs for its Disney World theme park. Later, he moved to California to work at Disney’s Imagineering studio which designed Epcot Center and then Gilleon assisted in the planning of Disneyland Tokyo, Disneyland Hong Kong and Disneyland Paris.

The American West left a mesmerizing impact on him as an artist. Gilleon and his wife first built a home along the Dearborn River in Montana, and later purchased a ranch near Great Falls not far from the legendary Old North Trail where native peoples traveled millennia ago from the Arctic to the desert Southwest. Here Gilleon found clusters of teepee rings from encampments which inspire him to contemplate how the camps might have looked centuries ago.


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