Editor’s Letter | Equal Treatment


By Kristin Bucher

For as long as I can remember, the dearth of women artists in the West—or to be more precise, the dearth of women artists in the West who are included in top galleries, shows, museums, and so on—has been an important topic of debate. Without fail, the question comes up at the Cowboy Artists of America show each fall in Arizona: Why does the all-male membership resist opening the group to women? Surely there are talented gals who deserve to join the ranks? Well, after years of raising the issue, one museum has taken the matter into its own hands. This month, for the third time, the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, AZ, hosts a special show devoted solely to female artists. “Art From the Other Half of the West” is the subtitle for the “Cowgirl Up!” invitational.

It’s wonderful that this relatively new show has found a place in the art world; by all accounts it’s been a success, pleasing collectors and participating artists alike. I applaud the efforts of the artists and the museum staff who make it happen. Here at Southwest Art, we also make a concerted effort to include women artists in our pages. From our monthly “Artists to Watch” columns to our feature articles to our “My World” series on artists’ studios, we’re always on the lookout for women to cover (which should come as no surprise, given that we’re an all-female staff of editors!). At the same time, you’ll almost never see an article or an issue devoted solely to women. Why? We believe that one of the ways to treat women equally is to put them fully in the same category with men, to judge them on exactly the same artistic criteria of excellence without special sections or treatment.

It’s fitting that this month’s issue allows us to honor an artist who set new standards of excellence, regardless of gender. Years after her sudden death in 2000 saddened the art world, a beautiful new book is available on Lanford Monroe. Lanford was known as a wildlife painter, but in many of her luscious images wildlife plays only a cursory role, with the bulk of the canvas given over to gorgeous, softly painted landscapes. She was universally esteemed for the quality of her work, thus proving it possible to simultaneously transcend both gender and genre. It’s too bad she’s no longer here to join in the success of other western women.

Featured in March 2008