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The Cowboy Culture Lives at a Nevada Exhibit

  • By Sebastian Marders
  • Published 03/2/2009
  • Poetry

Some may say the culture of the cowboys has been buried by the buzz of modernization, and that like the archetypal hero he is often portrayed, his artistic expressions have faded into the sunset. But think again. This month, the state of Nevada celebrates the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering to relive the grand cultural heritage of the American West. One focal point of this celebration is a twin exhibit titled “Between Grass and Sky”, a joint project of the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno and the Western Folklife Center in Elko. The first exhibit is set at the Nevada Museum of Art and is entitled “Between Grass and Sky: Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem” to celebrate the rich poetic expression inspired by life in the American West. The colorful mosaic of rural and ranching life shall find expression in this exhibit through the works of such artists as Adam Jahiel, Scott Hudson and Theodore Waddell. Audiences will have the chance to experience a unique audio-visual presentation of “Grass”, written by Buck Ramsey, which will be recited by famous cowboy poets from Texas and Utah. Through this exhibit, the Nevada Museum of Art hopes to bring artists and scholars closer to the community, for them to jointly experience their changing environments.

Choosing the poem “Grass” is apropos to the exhibit, as Buck Ramsey’s poetry resonates with the passion of the great ranges of the American West. Ramsey’s poem finds eloquence in the rhythm of the c

owboys’ life in sync with the flows of nature, a quality shared by other artworks on feature at the exhibit. The second exhibition set at the Western Folklife Center in Elko will feature a wide range of works of arts, ranging from paintings to sculptures, revolving around the rich theme offered by ranch life. The exhibit viewers, whether traditional or contemporary, will likewise be treated to a display of exquisitely crafted horse gear, curated no less by Jeremiah Watt, a master saddle maker and bitmaker. Among those expected to show the best of their wares are members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association, as well as French, German, Australian and Canadian craftsmen. Also coming are bitmakers from Montana, Oregon, Utah and California, whose customer list consist of an international clientele, and who have discovered a new medium of artistic pursuits in bitmaking. Awards for the best saddle maker and bitmaker are at stake in the exhibition which will also feature workshops and demonstrations. Viewers will also have the chance to purchase some of the horse gear (reins, head stalls, saddles, bits) exhibited for the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering celebrations.

Both exhibitions are a visual and aural feast that should not be missed by anyone so enamored with the culture of the Cowboys and the great American West. They will be joined not only by poets and gear-makers, but also by musicians to share both cowboys’ poetry and music, and look forward to another 25 years of growth in the appreciation of the unique culture that is the American West.



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