D. Michael Thomas
"After the Dust Settles" - Monument
Mike Thomas’ art reflects the ranching tradition he knew as a boy. Mike, who grew up in Big Piney, Wyoming, is no stranger to the cowboy’s life. At six, he already loved the people and traditions of the Old West. When he was eleven, Dan Chapel, a local rancher, let him work at odd jobs. “Dan liked having a kid around who wanted to work and learn the livestock business. He was like a father to me,” says the artist.
From kindergarten through high school, Mike worked on ranches along the Green River. He punched cows, helped with branding and doctoring, winter feeding, irrigating and haying. “That was in the 60’s, and a lot of the cowboys and ranchers who’d settled Wyoming were still hard at work. Knowing those men enriched my life and inspired my art.”
Mike entered the University of Wyoming ion 1973. During his sophomore year he began molding clay images. He used a pocketknife and a dental tool, trying to capture the men, the horses and the way of life he’d known as a kid. He sold his first bronze in 1983.
Today, Mike Thomas bronzes are in private collections and corporate boardrooms in Hong Kong, Sydney, Dallas, and New York. Mike is especially proud that some “top hands” own his pieces. “They tell me they enjoy looking at the detail, making sure something is there that’s supposed to be. That’s the biggest compliment I can get.”
Mike attributes his artistic success to ---- his mother and Charlie M. Russell. A widely admired painter herself, Mrs. Thomas introduced her son to the challenges and satisfactions of the artist’s life. She greatly admired Charles Russell’s work, so Mike was “steeped in Charlie Russell from childhood.” Thomas readily acknowledges that the cowboy artist has influenced his own creative eye.
Mike is grateful that his talent permits him to pay tribute to the traditions and people he loves and preserve the details of a vanishing way of life.
“We’re witnessing another big change in this part of the country,” Mike says. “Like the changes the Indians experienced when settlers invaded the prairies and mountains, and the changes barbed wire brought to the wide, open range.” Today it’s technology, new government policies and masses of people. “It’s important to me to capture the ways of this part of the West, as I know it. I’m flattered to be chosen to represent the ‘good hands,’ past and present, in my art.”