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Bull Elk by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "83001"
36 x 36"
Oil over Acrylic on Cradled Board
Bull Elk

This piece will be available from Western Visions at the National Museum of Wildlife Art September 7-29. Bid-Intent-to-Purchase Sale night is September 12. Visit the gallery online or purchase your tickets by clicking HERE

How to Buy, General Information

No animal is more emblematic of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, than the Rocky Mountain Elk. In this piece I wanted to explore the connection between the elk and human kind, particularly the story of the imperilment of these animals and subsequent conservation and management efforts. After early agriculture and ranching in the Teton Valley damaged the elk’s historic wintering grounds, the species was under the very real threat of extinction. Entreaties from local land owners concerned about the future of the species eventually lead to the subsumption of those ranches by the Federal government, and the National Elk Refuge was born.

Since then, the question of how directly humans should intercede on the elks’ behalf have been a source of controversy. Some conservationists believe that any intervention disrupts the elks’ natural behavior and should be avoided, and that supplemental feeding in the winter in particular makes the entire population more vulnerable to disease. Others believe that we should be more active stewards of these animals, especially since their current challenges are the direct result of human settlement and our continued expansion.

I chose to explore these concepts by placing my bull elk behind a bar code that reads as a fence, while softer verticals in the background suggest a distant cityscape. The numbers at the bottom of the bar code are significant. The first number, “2,” indicates that the item in question is priced by the pound, which alludes to the commodification of the elk as a source of game meat, money from hunting licenses, and their highly prized and decorative antlers. The Jackson Hole zip code, “83001” firmly positions the elk in the midst of local life and politics. The next four digits, “81912,” is the month, August, and Year, 1912, when the National Elk refuge was established. The final digit, “7” is the “check digit,” and is arrived at by combining the previous numbers in a specific formula to ensure that the bar code is valid.

The elk himself is a handsome bull that I observed near a friend’s home in Solitude as he warily kept an eye on his harem of cows. This posture, as he scented the air and stood between me and his herd, struck me as unique and alien. Largely disassociated from his natural surroundings, the elk becomes a lonely and iconic figure amidst the hard lines that we have carved into a once pristine wilderness.

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California –based, internationally recognized, award-winning contemporary wildlife artist. Denman primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. His dynamic and original acrylic paintings can be found in museum collections on two continents and in numerous private collections in the USA and abroad. His clear voice, unique vision, and commitment to constant artistic experimentation have positioned him on the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today.
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