Cu­rat­ing the West

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS - Shiloh Thur­man Mu­seum Direc­tor Woolaroc Mu­seum & Wildlife Pre­serve Bartlesvil­le, OK (918) 336-0307

What event (gallery show, mu­seum ex­hibit, etc.) in the next few months are you look­ing for­ward to, and why?

One of the ex­hi­bi­tions I am most ex­cited about see­ing in the up­com­ing months is a T.C. Can­non: At the Edge of Amer­ica, at the Gil­crease Mu­seum. T.C. Can­non was at the fore­front of a “New Wave” of Na­tive Amer­i­can art and one could easily ar­gue that he is one of the most in­flu­en­tial and im­por­tant artists of the 20th cen­tury. A large por­tion of our col­lec­tion is fo­cused on Na­tive Amer­i­can art, and it is nice to see a more mod­ern ap­proach that helps tell a dif­fer­ent side of the same story. The staff at Gil­crease has agreed to host the Woolaroc staff in early Au­gust, and I will be tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­nity to see their new ex­hi­bi­tions.

What are you read­ing?

I am cur­rently read­ing Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Mur­ders and the Birth of the FBI. This book probes the mur­ders of sev­eral wealthy mem­bers of the Osage tribe in early 1920s Osage County, Ok­la­homa. Some­thing that par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est me about this book is that dur­ing this time and also in Osage County our own Frank Phillips was cre­at­ing his lodge and mu­seum re­treat that later be­came Woolaroc Mu­seum & Wildlife Pre­serve. Frank had a close re­la­tion­ship with many prom­i­nent mem­bers of the Osage tribe, and this book pro­vides an­other im­por­tant per­spec­tive to that re­la­tion­ship.

In­ter­est­ing ex­hibit, gallery open­ing or work of art you’ve seen re­cently.

I re­cently at­tended the Na­tional Cow­boy & Western Her­itage Mu­seum’s in­vi­ta­tional art show and sale Prix de West. This year’s show was fan­tas­tic! There were well over 90 of the best artists in the coun­try rep­re­sented at the show. Hav­ing so much great art in one room can be over­whelm­ing at times, but the way the mu­seum staff han­dled the lay­out of the show cre­ated a very vis­ually pleas­ing flow through­out the gallery. Great lec­tures this year by T. Allen Law­son and Andrew Peters cou­pled with the ex­cel­lent demon­stra­tions by Joseph Bohler, G. Rus­sell Case, Bruce R. Greene and Sandy Scott made this event first class.

What are you re­search­ing at the mo­ment?

At the mo­ment I am re­search­ing the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch. It was an 110,000-acre cat­tle ranch founded by Colonel Ge­orge Miller in the In­dian Ter­ri­tory of Ok­la­homa. Miller used a por­tion of this land to cre­ate the 101 Ranch Wild West Show which show­cased some of the best Western per­form­ers and most well-known cow­boys of its day. Woolaroc has a very ro­bust col­lec­tion of ob­jects re­lated to the 101 Ranch and we are look­ing at ways we can in­cor­po­rate this into our per­ma­nent col­lec­tion.

What is your dream ex­hibit to cu­rate? Or see some­one else cu­rate?

That’s a tough one. I am a his­tory ma­jor, so any­thing that per­tains to that pique my in­ter­est. In the mu­seum we talk about how our paint­ings show both the Na­tive Amer­i­can and cav­alry per­spec­tive of what hap­pened at the Bat­tle of Lit­tle Bighorn, and it would be in­ter­est­ing to me to ex­pand on that thought through an ex­hibit.

One of the gal­leries at the Woolaroc fea­tur­ing, at right, a mas­sive Wil­liam R. Leigh work, Navajo Fire Dance.

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