Fall 2017–Winter 2018
WHEN JOHN REYNOLDS
died at his home in Montecito
his obituary noted that the retired TV executive had been working
with his son Bill on a documentary about Ed Borein’s early years.
Finishing up that Borein film is still on Bill’s agenda, after he
publishes his De Yong book. Like his father, the younger Reynolds is a
devotee of the Old West.
“For me, the cowboy has always been about the imagery of self-
reliance,” he says. Cowboy culture “is very American. It’s something
that we own as a country.”
While John was a broadcasting pioneer who rose to the top at CBS
and later ran Paramount’s TV unit, Bill is more of a print guy. In a
sense, he represents a return to the pre-Hollywood days when the
West was mythologized by magazines that featured illustrations by
Russell, Borein, Maynard Dixon—and Joe De Yong.
“It was all driven by publishing,” Reynolds says.
As De Yong was riding off nto the sunset in the ’70s, Reynolds
was just getting started. Emerging from California Institute of the
Arts in 1977 with a master’s degree in graphic design, he worked as an
art director for A&M Records and then went into advertising, with a
focus on the western and equestrian industry. Eventually shifting into
writing and publishing, he landed at
Cowboys & Indians
and later published the bimonthly
Ranch & Reata
. He is the author or
co-author of a number of books, including
The Faraway Horses
Art of the Western Saddle
The Cowboy Hat Book
enough, a cowboy hat, modeled on Joe De Yong’s, will figure in the
promotion of his next book, the biography of the artist.
“Rand’s Hats of Billings, Montana, is making a limited edition of
his hat to coincide with the book launch,” Reynolds says.
Ranch & Reata
magazine ceased publication in 2016, but Reynolds
continues to focus on the Old West as an author, a journalist, a filmmaker
and an internet radio producer. Like Joe De Yong, he has served as a
technical adviser on Hollywood westerns, including Robert Redford’s
The Horse Whisperer
. And, also like De Yong, he is motivated in part by
an urge to document the cowboy ways before they are forgotten.
“That’s been my professional life,” he says.
The hallenge today is to make cowboy culture seem relevant to
young people who didn’t grow up on a diet of TV westerns and have
never seen a John Ford film.
“We are seeing a real demographic shift,” Reynolds says. “The
interest is waning, pretty dramatically. It’s a real problem.”
Earlier this year, Reynolds co-curated
In the Saddle: Horses, Santa
Barbara and the Way of the West
at the Santa Barbara HistoricalAbove – After Bill Reynolds found Joe De Yong’s letters and an unfinished autobiography manuscript, he began putting together a book, Joe De Yong: A Life in the West , the first biography of this neglected (yet highly collected) western artist. Top – Post Office mural in Gatesville, TX, Off to Northern Markets , 1939, by Joe De Yong.
Texas Post Office Murals:
Art for the People
by Philip Parisi,
(2004) Texas A&M University
Press. The Texas Post Office Murals
was one of President Franklin D.
Roosevelt’s public relief projects
to inspire Americans to rebuild
their lives. Artists were employed
to beautify the walls of public
buildings with positive images of
American life and history.
PHOTOGRAPHER: WYATT MCSPADDEN / WILLIAM REYNOLDS.
____________PHOTO BY STEVE THORNTON