Western Folklife Center and Nevada Museum of Art Team Up


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 1, 2008
Contact: Darcy Minter
Western Folklife Center
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775.340.4240
Alexia Bratiotis
Nevada Museum of Art
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The Western Folklife Center and Nevada Museum of Art Team Up
in Honor of 25 Years of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Elko and Reno - In celebration of the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada, and the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada,have partnered to develop a joint exhibition entitled Between Grass and Sky, which will be mounted in both locations starting in January 2009. Central to both exhibitions is an appreciation for the rich cultural heritage of the American West. In an effort to appeal to both traditional and contemporary audiences, the Nevada Museum of Art and the Western Folklife Center will celebrate the unique sense of place of the American West by exhibiting a broad range of artworks, from paintings and sculptures to intricately crafted gear.

Between Grass and Sky - Trappings of a Ranch Life

Between Grass and Sky - Trappings of a Ranch Life is an exhibition of fine handcrafted horse gear, guest curated by master saddlemaker and bitmaker Jeremiah Watt, which will open in the Western Folklife Center's Wiegand Gallery during the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering at the end of January 2009. Some of the finest custom saddlemakers and bitmakers have been invited to show off their best work, including members of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association, and craftsmen from as far away as Australia, Canada, France and Germany. The artists selected for this exhibition - such as bitmakers Frank Schultz of Victor, Montana and Ricarda Clause of Lakeview, Oregon and saddlemakers Jeff Hanson of Monticello, Utah and Pedro Pedrini of Marysville, California - operate one-person shops, creating work for customers throughout the world.

"The old West may be fenced in and gone forever; today, on the open range, it's the gearmakers who are enjoying a new frontier in artistic expression," explains exhibit curator Jeremiah Watt.

Best of Show awards will be presented to a saddlemaker and a bitmaker as part of the opening reception for the exhibition on Thursday, January 29, and related workshops and demonstrations are scheduled as part of the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering festivities. 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, which runs through August 29, 2009. For those who can't be in Elko physically, an online photographic exhibition of gear for sale will be on view at the Western Folklife Center's website, www.westernfolklife.org, beginning in mid-January. The gear will be available for purchase from the Folklife Center's Gift Shop beginning January 20.

Between Grass and Sky – Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem

Much like visual art, the enduring tradition of cowboy poetry is a rich and vital form of cultural expression in the American West. From January 17 to May 17, 2009, the Nevada Museum of Art will present Between Grass and Sky: Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem. This exhibition of contemporary artwork by artists such as Scott Hudson, Adam Jahiel and Theodore Waddell, offers fresh insight into the varied experiences arising from life in rural and ranching communities. Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem will also include an audiovisual component – the recitation of Grass, a poem by Buck Ramsey, by three renowned cowboy poets, Joel Nelson and Andy Hedges from Texas, and Jerry Brooks from Utah. This exhibition is presented as part of the Art + Environment series, an initiative of the Nevada Museum of Art that brings together community, artists and scholars to explore the interaction between people and their environments.

"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 Ann Wolfe, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections at the Nevada Museum of Art. "This exhibition – presented on the occasion of the 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering – encourages visitors to explore the transformations occurring in the West from the viewpoint of poets and artists."

Buck Ramsey's poem Grass was selected as the basis for these exhibitions because it eloquently engages with a range of themes and ideas that resonate with anyone who has spent time among 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 – a 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.

Generous support for Between Grass and Sky is provided by the E.L. Wiegand Foundation.