Arthur Roy Mitchell
| Arthur Roy Mitchell|
(Colorado artist and historian;
|Born|| December 18, 1889 |
Trinidad, Las Animas County
|Died|| November 1977 (aged 87) |
|Spouse|| Never married
Usually known as "Mitch," Mitchell in 1907 began work as a ranch hand in New Mexico. Soon, he was sketching scenes of cowboy and western life and drawing political cartoons for newspapers. After United States Army service in World War I, he traveled to New York City, where he studied under Harvey Thomas Dunn (1884-1952) at the Grand Central School of Art. By 1940, he had created more than 160 cover paintings for Western pulp magazines, which carried the works of such writers as Zane Grey and Jack London.
During the summers, Mitchell continued to paint in the American Southwest and often invited his mentor Dunn to come to Colorado to sketch the landscapes.
In 1944, Mitchell returned to Trinidad and launched the first art class at Trinidad State Junior College, at which he remained on the faculty until 1958. In 1959, he designed the official "Rush to the Rockies" emblem commemorating the 1859 Colorado gold rush centered about Cripple Creek in the Rocky Mountains. He also sought to preserve and restore historic Trinidad buildings, including the Baca House, the home of the founder of Trinidad, the Bloom Mansion, and the Pioneer Museum. He was the curator for the Trinidad Historic District until 1975.
In 1972, he was named an honorary member of Cowboy Artists of America. In 1973, he was one of twenty-four academics entered into the National Academy of Western Artists. In 1974, he received the Honorary Trustees Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, as "the man who has done the most for Southwest history" through his paintings.
Four years after his death, the A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art was opened in 1981 on the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway at 150 East Main Street in downtown Trinidad at the location of the former Jamieson Department Store. The museum displays some 250 of his major works, which are similar in theme to the better known western artists Frederic Sackrider Remington (1861-1909) and Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926). The lifelong bachelor called his paintings "my children."
Among his displayed works, none of which are dated in the museum collection, are "When Nights Are Long," "Lazy Day," "Shadows at the Longhorn," "Homeward Bound," "Morning Friskies," "The Get-Away," "Bulldogger," "Holdup at First National Bank, and "Driving off Rustlers."
In 1975, Mitchell retired to Denver, where he died two years later and is interred. Mitchell's sister, Ethel "Tot" Erickson (1892–1982), laid the groundwork for opening the museum in his honor, completing the task only a year before her own passing.
Mitchell summed up his legacy, accordingly:
You look over the back trail, and you see the fine friends you've made, and you see you've managed to make a living doing something you really loved; so how could anyone ask for more?