“As an artist, I look deeply into myths. Why does Custer’s Last Stand matter? Why are they still making movies about the Alamo and Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp? We project our emotions through these figures, and there’s something really wonderful about that.” – Thom Ross
Thom Ross was born in San Francisco, California, in 1952, and raised in Sausalito. He earned a degree in fine arts from California State University, Chico, in 1974.
Ross’s goal as an artist is to portray iconic American people and events in new ways in order to bring out a more complex story than the traditional historical myths. His work challenges the viewer to re-examine history. Indians playing croquet; General Custer riding off while balancing a table on his head; Sheriff Pat Garrett standing with shotgun in hands bracing against the cold of a wintry New Mexico morning – these are a few of the unique images depicted in Ross’s paintings.
Ross works in various media including paintings, book illustrations, and “installation artwork” with life-sized recreations of historical scenes. He updates history with bright colors, abstract forms and a contemporary style. Ross believes that as we re-examine and question the historical forces that shaped the lives of the subjects he paints, their meaning as icons shifts and deepens.
In 2008, Ross installed a life-size replica of the 1902 photograph depicting Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show, on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Ross was named “Best Original Period Western Painter” by True West magazine in 2012.
Ross has illustrated at least 20 books, including a history of baseball. He is the author and illustrator of the book, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Words and Pictures. In 2002, Ross illustrated the 100th anniversary edition of The Virginian by Owen Wister.
Ross’s paintings are in private and public collections throughout the United States. He currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he owns and runs Due West Gallery.