Each Month We Ask Lead­ing Mu­seum Cu­ra­tors About What’s Go­ing On In Their World.

Western Art Collector - - CURATING THE WEST -

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

We are cu­rat­ing an ex­hi­bi­tion on the 50th an­niver­sary of the film True Grit in which we will com­pare the 1969 ver­sion with the Coen Brothers 2010 ver­sion. We are call­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion Two Grits: A Peek Be­hind the Eyepatch. We will com­pare char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment, cine­matog­ra­phy, lo­ca­tions and cos­tumes, so as to see how each in­ter­pre­ta­tion is unique. We will also com­pare each film with the orig­i­nal story. We are for­tu­nate to be work­ing directly with the John Wayne family and will bor­row some ar­ti­facts and ob­jects from them, in­clud­ing

John Wayne’s orig­i­nal script from the 1969 pro­duc­tion, and another eyepatch—one of Rooster Cog­burn’s eye­patches is al­ready in the John Wayne Col­lec­tion shown in our West­ern Per­form­ers Gallery.

We are also work­ing on an ex­hi­bi­tion on the ori­gins and foundation­s of cow­boy craft us­ing our per­ma­nent col­lec­tion and a few bor­rowed ob­jects to talk about horse cul­tures around the world: Ca­balleros y Va­que­ros will open here at the Na­tional Cow­boy Mu­seum this fall.

What are you reading?

I am reading A Machine-gun­ner in France: The Me­moirs of Ward Schrantz, 35th Di­vi­sion, 19171919; Christo­pher Clark’s The Sleep­walk­ers: How Europe Went to War in 1914; Wide-open Town: Kansas City in the Pen­der­gast

Era; and Richard D. White’s Will Rogers: A Po­lit­i­cal Life. I usu­ally have sev­eral books go­ing at the same time, of­ten in dif­fer­ent parts of my house. I am a bit ob­sessed with World War I these days.

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

I saw the ex­hi­bi­tion For­tuny: Friends and Fol­low­ers at the Mead­ows Mu­seum at South­ern Methodist Univer­sity in Dal­las. It was a fas­ci­nat­ing look at Span­ish painter Mar­i­ano For­tuny y Marsal (1838-1874) and the im­pact of Span­ish paint­ing in the 19th cen­tury on art world­wide. For­tuny was a vir­tu­oso with wa­ter­color and his paint­ings are amaz­ing. I also re­cently saw Making Mod­ern America at the Philbrook Mu­seum of Art. Us­ing mostly its own col­lec­tion, Philbrook cu­ra­tors com­bined ma­te­rial-cul­ture ob­jects with fine and dec­o­ra­tive art ob­jects to show the trans­for­ma­tion of the United States through mod­ern design, and the con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous cul­tural and eco­nomic grow­ing pains and strug­gles go­ing on in America si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

What are you re­search­ing at the mo­ment?

I al­ways have mul­ti­ple projects go­ing, so not in any par­tic­u­lar or­der: Women artists of West Texas and the Dal­las Re­gion­al­ist Florence Mc­clung for a forth­com­ing pub­li­ca­tion on women artists of Texas. The sculp­tors James Earle Fraser and Laura Gardin Fraser and their pub­lic com­mis­sions across the United States and in par­tic­u­lar James’ com­mis­sions for the Mis­souri State Capi­tol (Mis­souri’s Bi­cen­ten­nial is in 2021) and Laura’s eques­trian sculp­ture of Gen­eral John J. Per­sh­ing, com­man­der of the Amer­i­can Ex­pe­di­tionary Force in World War I. Kansas City, my home­town, as a cow­town (it cor­nered the West­ern cat­tle mar­ket by 1900) and its role as a cul­tural bea­con be­cause of its agri­cul­tural in­ter­ests as the home of the Wheat Board and the Board of Trade. Cow­boys and firearms. Western­ers of the Great War. And fi­nally, Charles M. Rus­sell’s wa­ter­col­ors and bronzes (I am on the Rus­sell cat­a­logue raisonne com­mit­tee). I re­cently dis­cov­ered an im­por­tant Rus­sell draw­ing ger­mane to his great wa­ter­color, York, in the Mon­tana His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety’s col­lec­tion. I also am work­ing on a pa­per about dif­fer­ent ver­sions of Rus­sell’s bronzes.

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

My dream projects in­clude re­gion­al­ism west of the Mis­sis­sippi; i.e. what does Amer­i­can scene paint­ing look like in Ne­vada or Mon­tana? Also, the in­flu­ence of West­ern artists’ friend­ships on their work, i.e the Taos So­ci­ety of Artists, Char­lie Rus­sell and Philip Goodwin, Rem­ing­ton and TR. I’d also love to cu­rate an ex­hi­bi­tion, with a team of au­thor­i­ties and schol­ars, similar to what the Li­brary of Congress did in the 1980s with

The Amer­i­can Cow­boy, show­ing “cow­boy ground zero.” Fi­nally, I am fas­ci­nated by spir­i­tu­al­ity across cul­tures, and I want to do an ex­hi­bi­tion called some­thing like Rounded Up in Glory: Spir­i­tu­al­ity and Faith in the Amer­i­can West.

Let ‘er buck!

Michael R. Grauer Mc­casland Chair of Cow­boy Cul­ture/curator of Cow­boy Col­lec­tions and West­ern Art Na­tional Cow­boy & West­ern Heritage Mu­seum Ok­la­homa City, OK, (405) 478-2250 www.na­tion­al­cow­boy­mu­seum.org

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