Click any image for larger view.

Click any image for larger view.

WHO WAS HARRY YOUNG? WAS THE MAKER OF THIS RATHER UNUSUAL collection an obsessive artist with a penchant for cowboys? Was “Harry” (if that is really the artist’s name) a self-taught artist who had a wonderfully innate sense of collage, drawing and assembly—and this group of works just a fraction of his entire oeuvre? Or, was Harry Young just an ordinary child, infatuated (like many kids of the day) with cowboys and the wild west, this being the box of drawings his mother saved? No one really knows. Looking at more of the handwriting may yield some clues.

What we do know is what we see: a large intact set of small
(6 to 10 inches in size) odd, child-like, compelling and visually strong works by an unknown artist. By looking at the work, there are stylistic hints that perhaps these works were done by an adult, like the collage for the faces, the attention to detail in the clothing and the sheer ability to create so many consistent works of a single theme. But more research needs to be done. It does appear the works are at least 50 to 75 years old.

According to the Packer Schopf Gallery in Chicago, “over 350 cardboard figures of cowboys, lawmen and horses were found in a large wooden box with the words “Harry Young, 38 Inkerman, St. Thomas, ON” scratched on the inside. The vast majority are hand drawn. There are a handful of figures that have “collage” faces, which are cut from newspaper ads for cowboy movies. The box also contains a lot of other miscellaneous items, including a wearable Marshall’s badge and a small, handwritten book of “laws,” which establishes rules for cowboy life, morality and justice.

Judge for yourself by visiting the Packer Schopf Gallery website.