Between Grass and Sky: Trappings of a Ranch Life

Cary Schwartz Saddle, photo by Adam Jahiel

There are those to the leather born
Whose hearts beat to the hoof and horn

                From Grass by Buck Ramsey


This exhibition and a companion exhibition at the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, was made possible by the E.L. Wiegand Foundation.

Exhibited in the Wiegand Gallery
of the Western Folklife Center
501 Railroad Street, Elko Nevada

January 20-August 29, 2009

View the exhibition through the artists' and artifact profiles and photos online.

In a horseman’s world, trappings, such as saddles and bits, are essential tools of everyday horseback work, as well as visible icons of work style and aesthetics. For Between Grass & Sky: Trappings of a Ranch Life, some of the finest custom saddlemakers and bitmakers were invited to show off their best work. These artists operate one-person shops; they alone 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 collaborated with treemakers and silverworkers, and bitmakers teamed up with rawhide braiders and leatherworkers to craft their finished products. The creative work gathered in this exhibition testified to the health and vitality of these arts in today’s ranching world.

Judged as Best of Show:
Wayne Kelly, Saddle
Todd Hanson, Silverwork

Many of these handcrafted saddles, bits, reins, and headstalls were available for purchase during the exhibition, a rare opportunity to invest in the one of a kind work of some of the masters of gearmaking.