The True Old West


Above: Mountain Telephone Construction (circa 1927; oil,
35×43) by Allen Tupper True
. Below: Self-Portrait (oil, 20×16)

When we think of the Old West in paintings, we often conjure up images of the iconic Remington cowboy. But now a current exhibition pays homage to an artist who tells a different visual story. The Denver Art Museum, in association with the Denver Public Library and Colorado History Museum, have mounted exhibitions that spotlight illustrations, murals, and paintings by Allen Tupper True (1881-1955).

True was known or his illustrations and stories about the West in the early 20th-century, featured in national magazines such as Collier’s Weekly. The Denver native depicted the miners and trappers of the times as well as seminal events like the construction of the first telephone lines through the Rocky Mountains. However, some of the strongest paintings featured are the ones True created on visits to Taos, where he captured the lives and lore of Pueblo Indians. The exhibits include themes from the western frontier life as the Old West was fading into the New West, all witnessed by an artist who had fallen into obscurity until now. As one local critic noted, it’s about time Denver showed some “True Love.” The exhibit is on view through March 28.

—Bonnie Gangelhoff

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