Into a New West: Con­tem­po­rary Art from the Booth Mu­seum

An up­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tion at Briscoe West­ern Art Mu­seum ex­plores the realm of West­ern art in a con­tem­po­rary con­text.

Western Art Collector - - CONTENTS -

San An­to­nio, TX

This sum­mer, Briscoe West­ern Art Mu­seum in San An­to­nio, Texas, tells the story of con­tem­po­rary West­ern art through the ex­plo­ration of the groups, move­ments and artists who trans­formed the sub­ject into what it is to­day. Into a New West: Con­tem­po­rary Art from the Booth Mu­seum, an ex­hi­bi­tion run­ning through Septem­ber 1, fea­tures around 40 works of art on loan from the Booth Mu­seum of West­ern Art, with a small se­lec­tion from the Briscoe’s own col­lec­tion. Ex­plor­ing such top­ics as en­vi­ron­men­tal­ism, gen­der equal­ity and var­i­ous so­cial com­men­taries, the ex­hi­bi­tion demon­strates a shift from tra­di­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the West to new ide­olo­gies and modes of ex­pres­sion.

“There’s so much to do with con­tem­po­rary West­ern art that hasn’t been done yet,” says Michael Du­chemin, pres­i­dent and CEO of Briscoe West­ern Art Mu­seum, and cu­ra­tor

for the ex­hi­bi­tion. He breaks down the core prin­ci­ples of the show: two piv­otal move­ments that emerged in the 1960s, the es­tab­lish­ment of Cow­boy Artists of Amer­ica and the In­sti­tute of Amer­i­can In­dian Arts. “So when you look at con­tem­po­rary West­ern art, the first mes­sage in the ex­hibit is that the 1960s were a re­ally trans­for­ma­tive time in Amer­i­can cul­ture and West­ern art, and that can be seen in the CAA and the IAIA which em­braced mod­ernism and ab­strac­tion for what were young tra­di­tional Na­tive Amer­i­can artists…the IAIA re­ally trans­formed Na­tive Amer­i­can art and in the process be­came the van­guard for trans­form­ing West­ern art.” While CAA was cru­cial as well, works from CAA artists are not a part of the ex­hi­bi­tion. Rather, a ret­ro­spec­tive for the his­toric artist group will be held the sum­mer of 2021.

Pow­er­ful works are on view dur­ing Into a New West, from artists like R. Tom Gilleon, Donna How­ell-sick­les, Thom Ross, Anne Coe, Paul Pletka and Car­rie Fell, as well as six of the orig­i­nal IAIA mem­bers: Al­lan Houser, Shonto Be­gay, R.C. Gor­man, Fritz Scholder, Dan Nam­ingha and Kevin Red Star.

In Be­gay’s Our Promised Road, a fam­ily is seen in a pick-up truck driv­ing off the Navajo reser­va­tion, pre­sum­ably head­ing to­ward Flagstaff, Ari­zona, says Du­chemin. Four Peaks can be seen off to one side, and a bumper sticker on the truck reads “save our peaks.” Du­chemin ex­plains that this piece is a com­men­tary on the con­ver­gence be­tween Na­tive Amer­i­can be­liefs and iden­tity in re­gard to sa­cred land and the broader en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment.

“The open space of desert in Ari­zona is be­ing con­sumed by sub­ur­ban­iza­tion,” Du­chemin says of Coe’s Sub­ur­ban Ranchette: The New

Wa­ter­ing Hole. In the com­po­si­tion, we see a cow­girl on horse­back ap­proach­ing a “wa­ter­ing hole,” which is ac­tu­ally a pool with a beach ball in it. “In this im­age, I could see that this rancher may have been vis­it­ing a wa­ter­ing hole in that lo­ca­tion for gen­er­a­tions and now it’s been re­placed by a sub­ur­ban over­lay,” says Du­chemin.

Other stand­out pieces in the show in­clude Gilleon’s North­ern Plains, which takes prom­i­nent Na­tive Amer­i­can chiefs and ren­ders them in Warhol’s Pop Art aesthetic, and Fritz Scholder’s In­dian at Bus De­pot, an im­pres­sion­is­tic piece of a Na­tive Amer­i­can lean­ing against an ar­cade game at a bus stop.

“What makes it West­ern art is the sub­ject mat­ter and themes,” says Du­chemin. “What makes it con­tem­po­rary is that it moves away from the ro­man­ti­cism and re­al­ism and takes on 50 dif­fer­ent styles.”

Kevin Red Star, Ready for the Two Step (de­tail), mixed me­dia and acrylic washes fin­ished in oil, 50 x 62”. Booth West­ern Art Mu­seum per­ma­nent col­lec­tion, Cartersvil­le, GA.

Donna How­ell-sick­les, Not With­out Its Ups and Downs, mixed me­dia, pas­tel and char­coal on board, 68½ x 49”. Booth West­ern Art Mu­seum per­ma­nent col­lec­tion, Cartersvil­le, GA.

Anne Coe, Sub­ur­ban Ranchette: The New Wa­ter­ing Hole (de­tail), acrylic on can­vas, 42 x 48”. Booth West­ern Art Mu­seum per­ma­nent col­lec­tion, Cartersvil­le, GA.

Paul Pletka, Mescaleros- La Silla Ne­gra, acrylic on can­vas, 24 x 30”. Booth West­ern Art Mu­seum per­ma­nent col­lec­tion, Cartersvil­le, GA.

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