Wagons West

A new ex­hi­bi­tion at Desert Ca­balleros West­ern Mu­seum re­veals the his­tory of the cov­ered wagon through art.

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS -

Wick­en­burg, AZ

Dur­ing the ex­pan­sion west­ward of the United States, the cov­ered wagon played an es­sen­tial role by pro­vid­ing shel­ter and trans­porta­tion for set­tlers as they forged into the great un­known. De­cem­ber 8 through March 10, Desert Ca­balleros West­ern Mu­seum in Wick­en­burg, Ari­zona, will cel­e­brate the chuck wagon, Con­esto­gas, freight wagons and stage­coaches in the show Wagons West. On dis­play will be 25 works of art as well as ar­ti­facts from rarely seen pri­vate col­lec­tions that pro­vide a glimpse into these by­gone days.

“Wick­en­burg has a rich his­tory of the wagon cross­roads and it was quite ap­pro­pri­ate for us to com­mem­o­rate that through the ex­hi­bi­tion,” says Dan Fin­ley, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the mu­seum. He adds there will be works by both con­tem­po­rary and his­toric artists, with most of the pieces com­ing from pri­vate lenders in­clud­ing My­ron and Betsy Deibel, and Tom and Betty Watt.

“The wagon was in­te­gral to the ex­pan­sion of the Amer­i­can West,” Finely says. “Be­tween it and the horse, the Amer­i­can West could sim­ply not have been ex­plored the way it was. We want to tell the story of the im­por­tance of the wagon in the ex­pan­sion of the West.”

Among the pieces from the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion will be Cow Camp at Sun­down by late Cow­boy Artists of Amer­ica mem­ber Char­lie Dye; Olaf C. Seltzer’s Stage­coach to Ban­nack; and a piece by Olaf Wieghorst ti­tled Trail West. In de­scrib­ing Wieghorst’s piece, Fin­ley shares, “It re­ally cap­tures the con­di­tions—both the phys­i­cal and hu­man con­di­tions—that peo­ple faced on treks across the West, and re­ally how the wagons were piv­otal for sur­vival on those trips.”

Other artists with works in the show in­clude Ed­ward Bor­ein, Earle Heikka, Ge­orge Phip­pen, Bill Ne­beker, Ben­jamin Wu, Sherry Blan­chard Stu­art, Sheila Cottrell and Krys­tii Me­laine. Among the ar­ti­facts on view will be an 1800s chuck wagon from the Deibel col­lec­tion, a mud wagon in the mu­seum col­lec­tion that was used on the Ehren­berg-wick­en­burg run in the 1880s, and items such as Dutch ovens and bedrolls.

On the day Wagons West opens, the mu­seum will be host­ing one of its fam­ily days, with wagon-themed ac­tiv­i­ties tak­ing place from noon to 2 p.m.

1800s era chuck wagon. Col­lec­tion of My­ron and Betsy Deibel.

Olaf Wieghorst (1899-1988), Trail West, oil on linen, 24 x 30”. Desert Ca­balleros West­ern Mu­seum Col­lec­tion.

Char­lie Dye (1906-1972), Cow Camp at Sun­down, oil on can­vas, 30 x 40”. Desert Ca­balleros West­ern Mu­seum Col­lec­tion. Im­age © Ter­rence Moore.

Olaf C. Seltzer (1877-1957), Stage­coach to Ban­nack, water­color on pa­per, 12 x 17”. Desert Ca­balleros Mu­seum Col­lec­tion.

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