Go West!

Charles Marion Russell Medicine Man, 1916, Blanton Museum, Austin Texas

Charles Marion Russell Medicine Man, 1916, Blanton Museum, Austin Texas

In honor of my dad’s birthday today, I will highlight something near and dear to his heart. Western Art.  As a kid, he often schlepped me to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth and I now recall those trips fondly.  He’s an artist himself, wiling away at his craft in a snug little cabin in Colorado.  Dovetailing with his passion is the Blanton’s new exhibition, Go West!

Although this collection is small ball (4 rooms) compared to Amon Carter’s, it’s arranged in quite an orginal way.  The paintings chronologically trace the development of the west starting with the pristine west (Hudson River Valley school), through the Indian conflicts, the Indian plight, finishing with modernization (cattle and oil).  Coming soon, is a contemporary exhibition, to showcase modern art with western influences.

Above is Charles M. Russel’s, Medicine Man #4.  His attention to detail is striking, having lived with these Plains Indians and studied them for years. He can wrangle complexity and pathos like no other western artist. He goes big with symbolism in the setting sun,  indicating that way of life for these people is also fading.  (If you like this painting, Amon Carter starts a heavy hitting exhibit on Feb. 11, showcasing over 100 of his watercolors.)

Jerry Bywaters Oil Field Girls, 1940 Blanton Museum of Art, Austin Texas

Jerry Bywaters Oil Field Girls, 1940 Blanton Museum of Art, Austin Texas

To the right is Oil Field Girls, by Jerry Bywaters. A moving rendition of what happened to the pristine west as the oil fields overtook.  You see the smoke clouds staining the sky and the young women, their bags packed are trying to get the hell outa Dodge.  The irony is not lost; the west used to be a place to escape to start a fresh life. Now, they are leaving it in the dust.

Below is the collection’s huge showstopper, by Fredric Remington, another all time great of Western art.  Donated by Mrs. Ima Hogg, the “first lady of Texas” (rumoured to have a sister named “Ura Hogg” –but she only had brothers). Only in Texas, people.

Happy Birthday Dad!

The Cavalry Scrap by Frederic Remington, 1906 Blanton Museum of Art, Austin Texas

The Cavalry Scrap by Frederic Remington, 1906 Blanton Museum of Art, Austin Texas


One Comment on “Go West!”

  1. SigO says:

    I love the Bywaters painting, I hope we get to talk about it soon…


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