FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 17, 2009
Contact: Darcy Minter 775.340.4240
The Lingo of our Calling: The Legacy of Cowboy Poetry
Western Folklife Center Exhibit Features the Artistry of Ranching Culture
in the Rural West
Elko, Nevada—The Western Folklife Center's Wiegand Gallery will host the exhibition The Lingo of Our Calling: The Legacy of Cowboy Poetry, from September 24 to November 13, 2009. This exhibition offers a glimpse into ranching culture in the rural West through the lens of cowboy poetry and related art forms. The Lingo of Our Calling invites you to hear first-hand from working cowboys and to explore the enduring beauty and spirit of their culture. Though curated by the Western Folklife Center, The Lingo of Our Calling is part of the Nevada Arts Council's Nevada Touring Initiative, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Genius Initiative.
The Lingo of Our Calling exhibition presents cowboy poetry, music, gear, paintings, photography, posters and quilts. Recordings of recitations of the poems appearing in the exhibit bring them to life. Short films featuring the art and work of contemporary ranchers offer insight into the culture from the perspective of those working day-to-day on the land. A small, traveling library of selected volumes provides an opportunity to delve further into cowboy poetry.
From the time of the open range and trail drives to today's ranching generation, cowboy poetry, storytelling and music have been a means of entertainment and communication. Cowboy poetry took hold as an oral and literary tradition during the late nineteenth century, giving voice to the experience of working ranchers and cowhands. Since the mid-1980s, cowboy poetry gatherings—of which Elko's was the first—have galvanized an occupational and creative community, where artists find mutual inspiration and camaraderie. The poetry, stories and music once shared around the campfire or in the bunkhouse are now also performed onstage, bringing a much larger and more diverse audience into the fold. Because of its universal themes—friendship, loyalty, connection to place, loss, loneliness and change—cowboy poetry has an appeal that reaches well beyond the culture from which it emanates.
The Nevada Touring Initiative supports the work of artists and increases access to cultural events and experiences at the local level, particularly in communities that have typically been underserved. The Nevada Arts Council is a division of the Nevada Department of Cultural Affairs.
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.