Frederic Remington, A Dash for the Timber , oil, 481⁄4 x 841⁄8, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, TX.
By Margaret L. Brown
“You’re the sons of Charlie Russell, and I’m proud to call you friends, You spread the paint and shape the clay where western art begins … ”
So begins writer Don Hedgpeth’s poetic tribute to the Cowboy Artists of America, which he read at their annual awards banquet in October. Don’s words struck a chord with me that evening, as I’d recently been developing a series of articles on western American art, chronicling the movement from Bodmer, Bierstadt, Remington, and Russell to their “sons” and “daughters” living and working today.
The series, “Proud Legacy: 150 Years of Western Art,” debuts in this issue with a look at the 19th-century artists who depicted the unknown West. “With its boundless prairies,
vast forests, enormous mountains, mighty rivers, and exotic Indian population, the West was a magnificent stage that challenged the best of the young nation’s artistic talent,” writes Stephen May, the author of the series. “Proud Legacy” will run monthly in Southwest Art through the end of the year, as May presents a decade-by-decade examination of the art of the West.
The proud legacy of our nation’s western artists is perhaps best honored in the museums that showcase their works. Part of our goal with the series is to present some of the highlights of the permanent collections at museums such as the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, TX, and the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, OK, with the hope that you’ll be inspired to go view these incredible works of art in person.
At the close of the 19th century, the Old West was fading fast. One hundred years later, the West as we have known it in our lifetime is disappearing as well. Still, this great region continues to captivate the imagination of artists with the beauty, wonder, drama, and glory that remain despite change and the passage of time. As Don Hedgpeth said to the Cowboy Artists:“… the cowboy and the Indian are still among us yet,The land’s still wild toward the place the sun has always set.”
Featured in January 1999