23rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Exhibits Showcase Cowboy Cultures

Contact: Darcy Minter
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Exhibits Showcase Cowboy Cultures of the Great Basin
and Southern France

Elko - For the 23rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, January 27 to February 3, the Western Folklife Center will present two exhibitions: Gardians of the Camargue: The French Buckaroo Tradition (January 27 to June 30, 2007) and Buckaroo! The Hispanic Heritage of the High Desert (January 27, 2007 to December 31, 2009). These exhibits will hang in the Western Folklife Center's newly renovated Wiegand Gallery, an exciting new space featuring interactive exhibits and multi-media presentations. The new Wiegand Gallery was funded in large part by the the E.L. Wiegand Foundation. The balance of the cost of the renovation was provided by the Nevada Commission for Cultural Affairs and individual contributions. Prescott Muir Architects of Salt Lake City, Utah, designed the new Wiegand Gallery space. The Gallery will house both semi-permanent and temporary exhibitions drawing on the Folklife Center's own collections as well as traveling exhibitions.

Gardians of the Camargue: The French Buckaroo Tradition is curated by Lorraine d'Entremont Rawls with interpretive assistance from Guy de Galard, and provides a revealing view of an ancient way of life still maintained in the Camargue region of southern France. Lorraine d'Entremont Rawls, photographer Kevin Martini-Fuller and filmmaker Gail Steiger traveled to this area over the past five years to visit ranches and meet with gardians (cowboys) to learn about this occupational culture and its relationship to other horseback cultures worldwide. Lorraine's pursuit has culminated in the production of this traveling exhibition featuring the black and white photographic work of Kevin Martini-Fuller, the color photography of Lorraine d'Entremont Rawls, the interpretive paintings of Karen Foster-Wells, tools and clothing unique to the Camargue and the traditional poetry of Provence. Visitors can also view video footage of traditional gardian activities shot and edited by Gail Steiger.

Buckaroo! The Hispanic Heritage of the High Desert is a tale that began far from this landscape of rimrock and sagebrush. Distinguished by regional customs of horsemanship, language, and style of dress, buckaroos are a society within their desert communities of eastern California, northern Nevada, southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon. Their story has evolved across 700 years and three continents. This exhibit, re-installed in our new Wiegand Gallery, was produced by the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, and curated by Robert Boyd, the museum's Western History Curator. Through this unique collection of artifacts and photography, including the striking photography of Kurt Markus and Charles A. Blakeslee, visitors have an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the buckaroo way of life.

In addition to the exhibits in the new Wiegand Gallery, the Western Folklife Center will also present the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Student Art Show (January 22 to March 30, 2007, in the G Three Bar Theater. This installation of Elko County student artwork showcases the talents of students from kindergarten through high school. This year's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering theme, The Ranch, has inspired a wide range of creative expression, from plaster masks to photography to drawings and collages.

An opening reception and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held Thursday, February 1, at 3:30 pm for Western Folklife Center members and stakeholders and at 4:30 pm for the general public.

In addition to these exhibits, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering will feature performances by more than 60 poets, musicians and musical groups, including new faces and returning favorites. Workshops, films, lectures, ranch dances and late-night jam sessions, all contribute to the depth and richness of this one-of-a-kind event. The Elko Gathering is the first and largest of numerous cowboy poetry gatherings across the country. Produced by the Western Folklife Center, its purpose is to present and preserve the contemporary and traditional arts created by people living close to the land in the American West. Poetry, music, stories, handcrafted gear, film, photography, food - have helped make this event an annual ritual for thousands of people who value and practice the artistic traditions of the region, and are concerned about the present and future of the West.

The first Cowboy Poetry Gathering took place in 1985 and quickly became the go-to event celebrating the contemporary West. Over the last 22 years, the Elko Gathering has reinvigorated a tradition that never ceased to be a part of the lives of cowboys, ranchers and rural westerners. In 2000, the U.S. Senate recognized the cultural value of this tradition and the event responsible for its renaissance when it passed a resolution naming the Elko Gathering the "National" Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

For more information about exhibits, performances and workshops at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, please refer to the Western Folklife Center website at www.westernfolklife.org. If you are interested in applying for press credentials, complete the Media Credential Application Form and submit it online. If you have questions or need more information, please contact Darcy Minter at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 775-340-4240.

Special thanks to the Nevada Arts Council, Nevada Humanities, Nevada Commission on Tourism, Elko County Recreation Board, Wallace Foundation, MetLife Foundation, International Game Technology, and Wells Fargo Bank.

The mission of the Western Folklife Center is to enhance the vitality of American life through the experience, understanding, and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the American West.