Italian Buckaroos: Old World & New World

Click to enlarge banner featuring Giuseppe Raggio painting, Al Fontanile Italian Buckaroos: Old World
February 1 - September 3, 2013

Wiegand Gallery at the Western Folklife Center
501 Railroad Street
Elko, Nevada

This exhibition, presented in two parts, invites visitors to experience the heritage of ranching in Italy's Maremma as well as the legacy of Italian-American ranching in northern Nevada. The Old World exhibition is curated by Drew Mischianti and Natalia Estrada. The Italian cultural exchange and the portion of the exhibition dedicated to the Italian buttteri is exclusively sponsored by the E.L. Wiegand Foundation.The New World Italian-American component is presented with support from Reds Ranch and others. Featured banner artwork is of  Al Fontanile (The Water Tank) by Giuseppe Raggio (1864), courtesy of Giancarlo De Vincentiis.

The Maremma region of Italy, stretching along the Mediterranean coast from southwestern Tuscany to north of Rome, has been famed for cattle ranching and horsemanship since ancient times.The local cattlemen, known as butteri work with Maremmano horses and cattle.  The unique saddles, gear and clothing will be displayed along with artwork, photographs and videos documenting this ancient, yet still vibrant, cowboy culture.

Old World exhibition - Cappano or Hut, photo by Meg Glaser
Sella col pallino - Italian saddle with ball, photo by Natalia Estrada
The local cattlemen, known as butteri, work on horseback using the distinctive pungolo (a hooked stick for herding animals) and Maremman saddle. the cow pony of the butteri is a hardy, sure-footed working horse, bred to survive for days in the wild with little rest, eating only what they find in the brush at night; and cattle that are an indigenous, large and ancient breed known for their large bellies and long, lyre-shaped horns.

Of course, the last 100 years have brought many changes to the culture and economics of ranching in the region; however, the work of caring for livestock remains fundamental. For this exhibition, we bring together both historic and contemporary views of Italian cowboy life.

Logo for E.L. Wiegand Foundation, Reno NV
Italian buttero in roping pen, photo by Natalia Estrada