The Story Behind the Vaqueras
Growing up in a family of outdoorsmen, the mythology of the West and its larger-than-life cowboys and adventurers was deeply embedded in Geiman’s psyche. But the heroes of the story were most often men and, when embarking on this western figurative series, Geiman felt a strong calling to bring a heroine to the centerstage through his storytelling in paper. The many women in Geiman’s family — including his artist mother and sister, his many aunts and his Cuban-born grandmother — were all strong individuals, critical in shaping who he became in life.
On the birth of the Vaquera Sudoeste series: “These folk heroines offered personal inspiration and, as an artist, I decided to bring them forth to offer strength and resilience to others.”
At the time of their incarnation, Dolan Geiman had been living and working in one of the most vibrant Latino communities in the country, Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. “Most of my community members, neighbors, friends and fellow artists were Mexican. I embraced that community and the colorful imagery of my surroundings.” When he moved to Colorado, Geiman brought the imagery and inspiration of his Mexican neighbors with him. “These images stayed with me, and while I have embraced my new community of western fauna, the icons, heroes, and heroines of the Latin/Mexican culture have remained an integral part of my growth as an artist.”
Geiman continues to be fascinated by the celebration of death in Latino culture — specifically the Day of the Dead, or Día de los Muertos, holiday in Mexico. On this day, it is believed that the souls of deceased ancestors and loved ones reunite with the living. The reunion is celebrated with prayer, graveside visits and offerings, festive parties and parades, painted faces and sugar skulls — or calaveras — and special altars called ofrendas. It’s a glorious celebration of life, surrounding the oft-avoided subject of death.
The Vaquera Sudoeste series celebrates life as it celebrates death, these juxtapositions central to the work. The skeletal imagery interplays with the colorful vibrancy of the pieces, the floral accents and, perhaps most of all, the direct gaze of the female figures.