Russian Roulette

David Yarrow

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“The most authentic old saloons of the Wild West should still evoke a sense of unease in any first-time visitor. Even if it is only fleeting; the vibe should be territorial and uncompromising. All eyes are on the visitor and those eyes are menacing and judgmental. Of course, these days, it is all for show and friendships are soon made, but there is an overriding sense that bad things did once happen here. It would be very disappointing to enter a frontier bar to learn that nothing immoral had ever occurred under its roof.

The lore of the American West would suggest that in the olden days, bars were loosely governed and behaviour was unpredictable. Life was cheap, and entering a bar at the wrong time could be a fatal mistake. It was Russian Roulette and the default position was to be armed and wary.

This tableaux is a giddy ode to these saloon bars dotted around frontier towns in the Wild West. It was taken in Kochevar’s Saloon, in the old mining town of Crested Butte, Colorado. The walls of Kochevar’s – which include a century old roulette table – are a rich museum to the American west. If those walls could talk, they would no doubt tell many a story of character rich women, gambling feuds, drunken outlaws and cowboy capitalists. It was a place singularly characterised by the disposable moral fibre of its clientele.

It was such fun to do this shoot and I thank Brazilian supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio for playing the saloon girl with good energy: despite the nearby presence of a 1000lb bison.” – David Yarrow

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52 x 65 inches, Edition of 12

71 x 91 inches, Edition of 12

Signed and numbered by the artist

Archival Pigment Print, framed

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