By Leslie Busler
Last month we featured the five westernmost members of the Museums West consortium. In this issue we begin in a Texas cowtown-turned-metropolis, then travel up through the prairies of Oklahoma, across the plains to Indianapolis, and on to Corning, NY, where we visit the Rockwell Museum, one of the few collections of western art on the East Coast. These museums hold some of the finest western American art in the country, and the cities where they are located also have a wide selection of galleries. Pack your bags and head east to see how the West’s influence can be traced across the entire nation.
Bill Smith—Number One by James Bama at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame
Amon Carter Museum
Fort Worth, Texas
The Amon Carter Museum’s original collection consisted of paintings and sculpture by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell, but since its opening in 1961 many more American paintings, sculpture, and graphics have been added. In addition to 19th- and 20th-century works, the museum has one of the largest collections of photographs of the American West, from early daguerreotypes to contemporary prints. An extensive library has materials covering American art, the West, and the history of photography.
New Harmonies: Masterpieces Across the Collection, on display through August 16, combines works from various parts of the permanent collection, including paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, impressionistic works by John Lafarge, and western sculpture by Charles Russell. Prints and People: Narrative in American Printmaking, 1900-1945, on exhibit August 29-October 18, explores the use of narrative in prints from the early 20th century. Self-Taught Artists of the 20th Century: An American Anthology is on view November 1-January 24, 1999.
In recent years, downtown Fort Worth has undergone major revitalization, and art can be found in three areas that make up the Western Triangle: Sundance Square, the Stockyard National Historic District to the north, and the cultural district to the west. Galleries, restaurants, and shops can be found in Sundance Square, which encompasses 20 square blocks downtown. The Stockyards (a title left over from the days when ranchers gatherd there for cattle auctions) has several more galleries and western-themed shops. And the cultural district is home to the Kimbell Art Museum, the Fort Worth Museum of Science & History, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. A trolley runs among the three districts.
Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, 817.336.8791
National Cowboy Hall of Fame
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Everything cowboy is sacred here, from remnants of early frontier life to oil paintings of western legends. The National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s collection of sculpture, paintings, and artifacts—as well as its Rodeo Hall of Fame, Hall of Great Western Performers, and Hall of Great Westerners—all pay homage to the western spirit. Works by such masters as James Earle Fraser and Albert Bierstadt grace the galleries. Also, the museum hosts the Western Heritage Awards each spring and the annual Prix de West Invitational art show in June.
Imagining the Open Range: Erwin E. Smith, Cowboy Photographer [swa apr 98] runs September 26-December 27. In Imagining the Open Range, a symposium on October 17, scholars and other experts discuss how cowboy life has been portrayed to the public.
Several galleries are located on North Western Avenue in the Nichols Hills area. Howell Gallery and Dodson Gallery carry American paintings and sculpture. Also worth seeing is Greg Burns Gallery, which shows works by this Oklahoma watercolorist. Avondale Gallery, just two blocks off North Western Avenue, specializes in international paintings and sculpture.
If Native American art is your interest, Oklahoma Indian Art Gallery off Southwest 44th Street features works by both historic and contemporary painters such as Kevin Red Star, Robert Taylor, Bill Glass, and Lee Bocock.
Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, 405.297.8912
Set near the rolling Osage Hills, the Gilcrease Museum has a fine collection of sculpture, paintings, drawings, and prints by more than 400 leading western artists. Historical materials and Native American artifacts accompany works by George Catlin, John Wesley Jarvis, and Joseph Henry Sharp. Take a stroll through the gardens with historical themes or along the paths of Stuart Park. Each year the museum hosts the prestigious Gilcrease Rendezvous, a retrospective show that features two artists.
The Gilcrease Rendezvous, on display through September 7, presents works by Colorado wildlife sculptor Sandy Scott and New Mexico watercolorist Steve Hanks. Children of the Sun: Euchee Indian Culture and Tradition is on view August 7-October 25. American Art in Miniature spotlights the small: works no larger than 9 by 12 inches will be on display November 6-December 6. Modoti & Weston: Mexicanidad, November 6-January 3, 1999, explores the history and culture of Mexico through the eyes of these two noted photographers.
The Tulsa gallery scene is ever-changing, but two art dealers on South Peoria have been around for almost 10 years. Arts Ltd. Gallery and Colour Connection Gallery both carry a broad range of paintings as well as jewelry; the former also has pottery, the latter ceramics and wood. Two more mainstays are Art Market on 51st Street and Native American Art on South Main Street, both carrying artwork by contemporary artists such as Robert Annesley and Bill Glass.
Tulsa Convention & Visitors Bureau, 918.599.6116
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art
One of only two Museums West members located east of the Mississippi River, the Eiteljorg Museum has an extensive collection of Native American artifacts representing 10 cultural regions of the United States. Its galleries are dedicated to paintings, sculpture, drawings, and graphics from the early 1800s to the present that depict life in the West. There are a number of works by original Taos art colony members such as E.I. Couse, Ernest Blumenschein, and Joseph Henry Sharp. Other western artists represented include Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Remington.
Gifts of the Spirit: Works by 19th- Century and Contemporary Native American Artists presents more than 200 works through September 6. Powerful Images: Portrayals of Native America [swa may 97] runs September 26-January 3, 1999. Splendid Heritage: Masterpieces of Native American Art From the Masco Collection showcases objects from the Great Plains, Great Lakes, and other areas in and around Indiana. The artifacts were created in the last 150 years with materials acquired through trade between Europeans and Indians. It’s on exhibit October 24, 1998-October 29, 1999.
The Massachusetts Avenue arts district downtown has theaters, restaurants, and galleries. Both Four Star Gallery and Dean Johnson Gallery specialize in contemporary works. Also downtown is the Faris Building on South Meridian Street, which houses nearly 50 artists’ studios and three galleries—the Hot House Art Gallery and Five Ten Gallery with contemporary paintings and sculpture, and the Photography Gallery. To the north at Tenth Street and Capitol Avenue, the Stutz Building also has artists’ studios open to the public and several galleries. Finally, Ruschman Gallery on North Alabama Street is one of the oldest galleries in town and offers contemporary paintings, sculpture, and textiles by regional artists.
Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Bureau, 317.262.3410
Corning, New York
The Rockwell Museum has one of the most extensive collections of western art on the East Coast. Housed in a 1893 Romanesque Revival structure in Corning’s historic district, it displays works by masters of the frontier like Thomas Hill and E.I. Couse. Landscape and wildlife paintings are on view, as are sculpture, ceramics, and artifacts. In addition to its western collection, the museum also has a large collection of antique toys and an array of glassworks made over the years at the nearby Steuben Glass Works.
Warp and Weft: Cross-Cultural Exchange in Navajo Weavings From the Rockwell Museum is on display through November 1 and examines the influences, from Pueblo to Middle Eastern, on Navajo weavings from the 1870s to the 1970s.
Within walking distance of the museum along Market Street you’ll find numerous galleries and shops. Glass is the centerpiece of this small community’s art culture, and many of the galleries carry glassworks as well as sculpture and paintings. Walk across the river to the Corning Glass Center, where you can watch the glassmaking process.
Steuben County Conference & Visitors Bureau, 607.974.2066.
Featured in July 1998