The Nevada Museum of Art
opens to the public the feature exhibition Between Grass and Sky: Rhythms of Cowboy Poem today, Saturday, January, 17. The exhibition is one part of a jointly developed exhibition between the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno and the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada. The complementary exhibition, Between Grass and Sky: Trappings of a Ranch Life will be on exhibit at the Western Folklife Center from January 20 through August 29. Working together, and in celebration of the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the two organizations created joint exhibitions that evoke a range of experiences central to life in the American West. Both exhibitions are designed by Nik Hafermaas of UeBERSEE Design in Los Angeles and are intended to present opposite, yet balanced perspectives as part of the overarching exhibition. Between Grass and Sky and all supporting programs are generously sponsored by the E.L. Wiegand Foundation.
This exhibition of contemporary artwork by artists such as Karen Kitchell, Adam Jahiel and Theodore Waddell, offers fresh insight into the varied experiences arising from life in rural and ranching communities. Inspired by the widely-celebrated poem Grasswritten by legendary Texas poet Buck RamseyRhythms of a Cowboy Poem features a selection of contemporary artworks combined with the spoken voices of renowned cowboy poets.
Much like visual art, the enduring tradition of cowboy poetry is a rich and vital form of cultural expression in the American West, said Ann M. Wolfe, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, Nevada Museum of Art. The poem Grass was selected as the basis for the exhibition because it eloquently engages a range of themes and ideas that resonate with anyone who has spent time in the open spaces of the American West.
Foremost among these themes is the recognition of rhythm as an essential component of nature and cowboy life as well as arta quality that is also reflected in the cadence of cowboy poetry. Whether focused on the essence of life on the range, or exploring the disruption of natural range cycles, the works selected for the exhibition elicit a variety of visual rhythms. Examples include Karen Kitchels Seasonal Overture in which intricate paintings of grass evoke seasonal transitions and Ed Ruschas Clock which literally conflates the passage of time with the cycles of nature.
A poignant large-scale installation, Scott Hudsons Bison, invites contemplation on the disruption of natural range cycles and raises questions about the historical and contemporary Western landscape. The works included in Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem elicit a variety of visual rhythms ranging from depicting the essence of life on the range to exploring patterns of environmental sustainability.
In addition to paintings, photographs and sculptural works, Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem will also include an original audiovisual component. Set against the backdrop of dramatic Western landscapes, recitations by three renowned cowboy poetsJoel Nelson and Andy Hedges from Texas, and Jerry Brooks from Utahare woven together to create a collective reading of the prologue of Grass. A testament to the generations of voices that keep Buck Ramseys words alive, the film celebrates the rich heritage of cowboy poetry.
"Between Grass and Sky brings together a diverse range of contemporary artworks, whose subjects echo the poignant lines of Buck Ramsey's poem Grass and suggest that the American West continues to be a place of relentless change," said Wolfe. "This exhibition encourages visitors to explore the transformations occurring in the West from the viewpoint of poets and artists."
The Nevada Museum of Art exhibition is presented as part of the Art + Environment series, an initiative of the Museum that brings together community, artists and scholars to explore the interaction between people and their environments.
Trappings of a Ranch Life Western Folklife Center in Elko
January 20 August 29, 2009
Hours: Monday through Saturday / 10 a.m. 5 p.m.
Taking an expansive view of cowboy trappings to embrace contemporary poetry, song and imagery created and inspired by this horse-centered occupation, Trappings of a Ranch Life, will exhibit fine handcrafted horse gear. The exhibition is guest curated by master saddlemaker and bitmaker Jeremiah Watt and will open during the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
For generations, cowboys have turned to these traditional art forms and skills as avenues of expression and as tools for a job well done, said Jeremiah Watt, Guest Curator, Western Folklife Center. In a horsemans world, trappings, such as saddles and bits, are essential tools of everyday horseback work, as well as visible icons of work style and aesthetics. The creative work gathered in this exhibition testifies to the health and vitality of these arts in todays ranching world.
Despite major changes in the landscape of ranching, gearmakers are currently enjoying a new frontier in artistic expression. Some of the finest custom saddlemakers and bitmakers from as far off as Australia, Canada, France, Germany were invited to show off their best work as part of this exhibition. Operating one-person shops; these artists are responsible for hundreds of hours of designing, forging, welding, cutting, filing, stitching, engraving and tooling. Though the work is solitary, these individuals are also part of a dynamic community of artisans that provides opportunities for creative partnerships and learning. In Trappings of a Ranch Life saddlemakers have collaborated with tree makers and silverworkers, and bitmakers with rawhide and leatherworkers to create their finished products.
Western style horsemanship has gone global, said Meg Glaser, Artistic Director, Western Folklife Center. Whether in Argentina or Montana, each of these artists, working with very similar tools, materials and forms, has created a one-of-a-kind piece of functional art, rendering elements of the natural world onto their canvasses of metal and leather. In tandem, ranch life and the broad vistas of the American West, often viewed and experienced from the back of a horse, provide inspiration for the poetry woven into this exhibition.
Many of the saddles, bits, headstalls and reins on display will be available for purchase through the Western Folklife Center gift shop during the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and through the end of the exhibition. An online photographic exhibition of gear for sale is available at westernfolklife.org.
Between Grass and Sky and all supporting programs are generously sponsored by the E. L. Wiegand Foundation.
The E.L. Wiegand Foundation supports programs and projects of exemplary organizations in the fields of education, health and medical research, civic and community affairs, arts and cultural affairs and public affairs.