Emerging Artist | Mike Tabor

By Julie Osterman

Part of the third generation of a ranching family in central Texas, Mike Tabor grew up surrounded by horses, cattle, and cowboys. He lives and works on his wife’s family ranch now, but during the week he’s a high school art teacher and in his spare time he paints and draws—a passion he’s pursued since grade school. Inspired by Peter Max, Andy Warhol, and the entire Pop art movement of the 1960s, Tabor combines its vibrant hues and simplistic lines with icons of the West. “My desire all along has been to take what I love, which is that kind of art, and apply it to western [images],” he says.

Tabor earned his bachelor’s degree in fine art from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX, and his senior thesis focused on the female figure. That’s the reason why, he says, most of his acrylic works feature tenacious, strong-willed cowgirls. He takes photographs of them in action and incorporates the images into his brightly colored abstract backgrounds, such as in coils, which portrays “a tough little cowgirl, who’ll rope steers and drink whiskey” against a design of yellow, red, and black. The interesting thing about his technique, Tabor adds, is that he visualizes the background of the painting before the subject. “I may be a closet abstractionist,” he jokes. Tabor is represented by Monticello Fine Arts Gallery, Fort Worth, TX.

Featured in “Artist to Watch” March 2005