Spirit of the West
Nineteenth-century writer Robert Louis Stevenson captured the Western spirit when he wrote: “Sit loosely in the saddle of life.” If “cowboy chic” is a state of mind, Colorado is the capital. Whether you sit in a saddle or a cubicle by day, or retire in the evening to a ranch’s sweeping vista or a LoDo loft, there is a cowboy collectible to flavor any Colorado home.
Nineteenth-century writer Robert Louis Stevenson captured the Western spirit when he wrote: “Sit loosely in the saddle of life.” If “cowboy chic” is a state of mind, Colorado is the capital. Whether you sit in a saddle or a cubicle by day, or retire in the evening to a ranch's sweeping vista or a LoDo loft, there is a cowboy collectible to flavor any Colorado home.
Westerners are unashamedly sentimental. We pride ourselves on the modern and urban revitalization of our cities with a deliberate nod to the past. The continuing rebirth of Denver's Lower Downtown and adjacent areas, for example, offers every urban amenity while vigorously safeguarding a rich history. Bellying up to the historic Oxford Hotel's 1930s Cruise Room Bar is like stepping into an art deco masterpiece and any given night, the Beatnik ghosts' presence can be felt at My Brother's Bar. A century ago, people came to Colorado to find their fortune and stake their claim on the American West. Today, people come for jobs, the skiing and sunshine, and they harbor the same romantic notions as their predecessors. Capturing that spirit in the place you call home is simple, thanks to the myriad of dealers delivering the Western American dream via old and new furniture and accessories of every imaginable type.
Ranch and lodge style, and all things cowboy, are in the midst of a renaissance, and Colorado has no shortage of Western touches, be they whimsical accessories or investment-quality antiques. Named after a 19th-century explorer of the region, Ruxton's Trading Post in Manitou Springs, (719) 685-9024, ruxtons.com, sells an excellent assortment of antique, vintage and newer cowboy and Native American gear, art, tack and ranch furniture. Those familiar with the Breckenridge scene will remember Josephine Lewis' excellent shop, Breckenridge Antiques. The popular space closed after almost two decades, but Lewis is now trading on the Internet and by appointment in Denver, Josephine Lewis, (303) 756-1488, breckenridgeantiques.com. Look to her for fine and fun antiques, many in the “Old West” vein such as cowboy-themed silver match safes and vintage rodeo costumes. Also, find everything from funky wagon wheel furniture to seriously collectible vintage ranch-style furniture at T-M Cowboy Classics, Longmont, (303) 776-7142, t-m-cowboyclassics.com.
Cowboy worship reached its peak during the mid-20th-century when the the Lone Ranger, John Wayne, Dale Evans and Will Rogers reigned in pulp fiction, on the radio, on television and in Hollywood. Revisit this period in tongue-in-cheek fashion at Crybaby Ranch, (303) 623-3979, crybabyranch.com. With an outrageous collection of cool cowboy kitsch, the store is the source in Denver for cowboy boots, belt buckles, beaded shirts, jewelry and new rustic furniture and home accessories with instant whimsy-adding capabilities. Looking for a more serious line of new Western and ranch furniture? Bonnie Sherwood has struck gold, putting her 17 years as one of Aspen's leading interior designers to great use. Her “Great Camp Collection” line of furniture accessories are inspired by the best of Old West ranches, Thomas Molesworth designs, and Adirondack lodges. Now available on her website, thegreatcampcollection.com, she combines all of the charm of the last century with the streamlined sensibility of a 21st-century eye. Formerly a fine-art specialist at Butterfields of San Francisco and auctioneer at the Harvey Clar Estate Auction Gallery, CH&L's Denver-based antiques expert Heather Lauren Quiroga can be contacted at appraiserHLQ@comcast.net or by calling (303) 744-0140.