Show Preview | Cowgirl Up!

Wickenburg, AZ

Desert Caballeros Western Museum, March 23-May 13

Heide Presse, Traditions, oil, 24 x 30.

Heide Presse, Traditions, oil, 24 x 30.

This story was featured in the March 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art March 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Artist Heide Presse is fascinated by the role women played in the development of the West. Using diaries kept by homesteaders in the 1800s, she creates paintings of their daily lives and lifestyles as they worked to carve out their own space in a new place. Presse is one of several women artists doing the same in today’s western art market. She and more than 50 others come together this month to display their work in the 13th annual Cowgirl Up! show at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum.

The event began in 2006 when museum curators noticed a need to focus on women western artists who didn’t have as many opportunities as men did to exhibit their work. Of the 300 applicants to the show this year, only 55 artists were selected to participate. The main gallery exhibition features 175 works that range from paintings and drawings to bronze sculptures. The exhibition opens on Saturday, March 24, with a “Bid and Bash” reception, awards ceremony, and live auction. Earlier that day, artists participate in a Quick Draw event, in which they are given 90 minutes to create a work of art. The paintings are then framed and sold during a live auction.

Attendees get to see a sample of the artists’ work on Friday, March 23, when miniature works by artists are also for sale. This small-works exhibition features 125 works that are no larger than 120 square inches. Presse, who returns to the event for the second time this year, brings two miniature works and two large pieces for the main exhibition. With most of her pieces featuring women, the artist says her main concern is staying true to the time period of the scene. “I don’t want them to look like general women from the time; I want people to be able to tell exactly what decade they are from,” she says.

Jessica Gilbert, who won the People’s Choice Award last year, also returns with nine pieces designed to evoke the spirit of Americana. Three of her main gallery works feature women draped in quilts. One, titled UNDERNEATH IT ALL [see page 30], was the first in the series that inspired her focus on the subject. “As the frontier was being developed, quilting took on this new design element and became this great symbol,” Gilbert says. “Quilts became a women’s art, and it was about more than just keeping warm.” The artist adds that the camaraderie of the women drew her to return to the show this year.

Karmel Timmons, a newcomer to the event, says she looks forward to visiting with her fellow artists. “We get to hear each other’s opinions and feedback, which we don’t get to do often because we sit in our studios all day,” she says. “It’s nice to be with other people who can relate to everything you go through on a daily basis in this industry.”

“I’ve been shut down a lot for loving western art,” Gilbert says. “It’s so meaningful because the show brings all of us together and puts everyone in the spotlight where they deserve to be.” The exhibition remains on display through May 13, and pieces are available for sale in person and on the museum’s website. —Mackenzie McCreary

contact information
928.684.2272
www.westernmuseum.org

This story was featured in the March 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art March 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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