I had the perfect Christmas present plan for the out-of-towners in my life: kitschy Western-inspired accessories and home goods. I walked around town, looking for them. Talulah Jones sold necklaces with horseshoes and wood carved into antlers for wall decor, but that was it. Fancy Tiger's Holiday Handmade Fair featured jewelry with plants in it and a card with a wolf face, but nothing more Western than that.
I asked around. Apparently, I'd need to go to the 16th Street Mall or Evergreen to find anything explicitly Western.
Etsy, that bastion of consumable nostalgia and irony gone wayward, loves the West. There are piles upon piles of Oregon Trail-inspired cards, jewelry and even clothes if Michelle Williams a la Meek's Cutoff is what you're going for. There are cowboy and Indian-inspired scrapbook sets made in New Mexico. (Hipsters love racism and genocide when it's wrapped up in the guise of a childhood game.)
But local artists duck their Western surroundings.
It's all owls, bikes and maps just like in every other DIY shop, in every other DIY town. Not that there's anything wrong with that stuff -- I have more than a few letter-pressed cards with mustaches on them just waiting to be sent -- but why isn't Colorado diving into the wealth of Western legacy in our back yard?
That owl card could have been made anywhere. That mustache could have come from a thousand post-grads still living in their parents' basements.
For the last five generations, Denverites have been trying to shed the "cowtown" image. But what's so wrong with taking cows and the West, and celebrating our heritage? Wouldn't it go far to convince people we're not a cowtown if we can make fun of our cowtown origins?
All this is to say: Where can I find a locally hand-poured soy candle with a cowboy image on the jar, goddamnit? These candles? Made in Wyoming.
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