Ron Kil Featured Artist for the Santa Fe Trail Bicentennial Symposium


Description: Pictured in Ron Kils Painting Commemorating the Santa Fe Trail Bicentennial Symposium are Marc Simmons, pre-eminent modern historian of the Santa Fe Trail and founder of the SFTA, as a Santa Fe trader and on the left is Kit Carson.

Ron Kil Featured Artist for the Santa Fe Trail Bicentennial Symposium

by Ed Stafford

Ron Kil, artist of Santa Fe, has created a dramatic and colorful painting which announces the Santa Fe Trail Association's national symposium set to happen at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site and La Junta, CO, in Sept. 2021.

     Commissioned to do the painting by John Carson of La Junta, who for four years has led multiple planning committees in preparation for the national gathering, Kil is a Westerner who worked as a rancher for 30 years before turning to art full-time.   "I'm pretty much self-taught," says Kil, whose art has livened a poster and post cards announcing  the Santa Fe Trail Association's "Three Trails Symposium" that took place in Santa Fe in 2015, as well as cover art for numerous issues of Wagon Tracks, the magazine of the National SFTA.

Artist and illustrator Kil says that he has an "inherent love of history."  He says that as a cowboy, "I worked a couple of ranches the Santa Fe Trail crossed.   I have driven cows over swales" that made the long ago passage of heavily laden ox-drawn trade wagons real for him.   "I'm also a self-made historian," he claims; although the attention he pays to details in his paintings of Indians, cowboys, and animals including cattle, horses, coyotes, buffalo, and recognizable Western landmarks show studied familiarity.  

     "Everything I do is historical.  My passion is history, the West that has long since gone the way of the buffalo." Playing out that passion, Kil has interpreted in costume an 1850s Santa Fe Trail plainsman at Santa Fe's Palace of the Governors, at Fort Union National Historic Site, and at Bent's Old Fort, a place he knows well.

     Typical of these interests is the 2021 painting he unveiled for Carson last year.  It is a panoramic "snapshot" of two riders on mules ahead of files  of ox-drawn covered wagons, presumably loaded with trade goods, passing Red River Peak toward Rayado on the Santa Fe Trail in New Mexico.  The two riders are portraits in action.   On the right is Marc Simmons, pre-eminent modern historian of the Santa Fe Trail and founder of the SFTA, as a Santa Fe trader.   On the left is Kit Carson.  

     He calls his work "romantic realism," making history as appealing as possible," he says.  He chooses subjects "mostly because of subject matter."  He doesn't "sit around (his) studio waiting for inspiration.  This is work, same as splitting logs."  And he chooses bold colors because "Color appeals to the senses, appeals to the mood, getting it right.  It draws viewers in."  Buyers of his works "say they bought because of the color" in his art.  "Whatever, the artist and his banker are pleased." 

     Although he has no gallery in Santa Fe, Kil sells out of a web site which his wife manages-- www.ronaldkilwesternart.com.  He works on commissions and sells to regular clients.  It has been through the influence and support of Marc Simmons that he has become an artist and illustrator for magazines and book covers.

     The Santa Fe Trail Association symposium, hosted by its local Bent's Fort Chapter which Ron Kil's art announces is to be found at www.2021sfts.com.  Registration is already underway.

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