Exhibitions will feature the artistry of cowboy culture

Two exhibitions, Caballeros Y Vaqueros – exploring the Hispanic roots of modern cowboy trappings – and the Traditional Cowboys Artists Exhibition & Sale – showcasing the best in modern saddle making, silversmithing and more – will come to the Museum this fall.
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museums will host a new exhibition, Caballeros y Vaqueros, and the 21st annual Traditional Cowboy Arts Exhibition & Sale this fall to celebrate the cowboy culture and the artistry of the gear needed to ride, rope and manage cattle throughout the American West.

“The decorative traditions of cowboy and horse gear provide some of the most enduring motifs and icons of Western culture,” said Michael Grauer, Curator of Western Art and McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture. “These exhibitions at the Museum this fall will encourage our guests to appreciate the tremendous talent and passion each saddle maker and metals artist has for his or her craft.”
First to open, Caballeros y Vaqueros, will explore the global roots of today’s cowboy equipment. The exhibition, on display September 14, 2019 - January 5, 2020, traces decorative traditions as they developed in Mexico from a fusion of Native American, European, African and Islamic traditions. It will be presented in both Spanish and English and will feature hands-on interactive elements.

“We want to ensure this exhibition connects with all our visitors,” said Natalie Shirley,Museum President & CEO. “With the exhibition being presented in English and Spanish, we hope our Spanish-speaking patrons especially enjoy an exhibition that highlights and celebrates the influences of Mexico on Western culture.”

Caballeros y Vaqueros features historical working objects as sculptural art, as well as paintings and sculptures showing the history of these items as they developed. The exhibit features pieces from the Museum’s collection that have not been on display in years. Items on display will include the Tang Horse, a seventh century Tang dynasty piece from John Wayne’s personal collection; recently deceased Lonesome Dove screenwriter Bill Wittliff’s Vaquero photography; the Argentinean Gaucho collection; and Dr. W.A. Maddox’s leather canvas art.
Caballeros y Vaqueros coincides with the Traditional Cowboy Arts Exhibition & Sale, running October 5-January 5, 2020. The exhibition features pieces from 12 contemporary artists and includes saddles, spurs, bits and other decorative items, each handcrafted as a functional piece of art.
 “The Traditional Cowboy Arts Exhibition & Sale is perfectly paired with Caballeros y Vaqueros, both highlighting the love cowboys have toward their profession and how those love is expressed through their arts,” said Nathan Jones, Associate Curator of Cowboy Culture. “These beautiful works underline TCAA’s dedication to preserving and promoting the skills of saddlemaking, bit and spur making, silversmithing, and rawhide braiding.”
Both exhibits run through January 5, 2020, with the TCAA sale scheduled for October 4-5, 2019. Registration is requested for most opening weekend sale events.
“These two exhibits will give visitors a unique chance to see historic and contemporary items and how global traditions and cultures evolved into a distinctive Western visual custom,” Shirley said. “These traditions truly are the inspiration behind the enduring icons of Western culture expressed by the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association as well as other keepers of the West."
Funding for this exhibition and related programs is provided in part by Susan J. Roeder, Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Additional sponsors include: Corona, Modelo Especial, Iguana Mexican Grill, Latino Community Development Agency and the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.