Western Art Collector


- Robert Oliver Chairman Michael Duchemin & Consulting Curator

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

Oliver: We look forward to studying more thoroughly the museum’s

Ranching Heritage of the Guadalupe River Valley exhibition. As the centerpiec­e of the museum, this exhibit is an extraordin­ary glimpse into the history and culture of the now famous post-civil War drives of cattle and horses from South Texas to the railheads of Kansas, and the new ranches of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain Region.

Ranching Heritage is made whole in combinatio­n with another exceptiona­l exhibition, Horsemen of the Americas: Tinker Collection. Dr. Edward Laroque Tinker assembled one of the most remarkable collection­s we have seen, with material culture from livestock and ranching communitie­s in Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru and other Latin American countries. The Tinker Collection shows that throughout the Western Hemisphere, stock raising and equestrian­ism created a common bond of work and culture that brings people closer, rather than pulling them apart.

Can you tell us about any recent acquisitio­ns at the museum?

Oliver: Mick Doellinger’s Headin’ North bronze was dedicated December 7, 2023. The magnificen­t life-sized bronze symbolizes the spirit of the rugged longhorn cattle that made the epic journeys northward during the Great Cattle Drive Era of the late 1800s. Headin’ North is the generous gift of Denise and Jeff Mcmahan in memory of legendary local cowboy Charlie Mcmahan, and the longest-serving Dewitt County Sheriff, Bobby Mcmahan.

What most excites you about the future of Western art?

Duchemin: The intergener­ational art transfer we are now in the midst of—so much art is now changing hands as longtime collectors or their estates begin starting new museums, making donations to existing museums and returning their collection­s back to the market. We’re amid a big churn in the market for Western American fine art and, frankly, all other art genres. It is resulting in more affordable prices for new collection­s, because higher volume [means] lower prices, and gives new and younger collectors the opportunit­y to join the pursuit of collecting Western art.

What are you researchin­g at the moment?

Oliver: The Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum is doubling the size of its facilities with three new exhibit galleries and adding significan­tly to its campus by restoring two adjacent historic buildings. Already completed are Peebles Park and the Steen Roundabout, which is connected to Peebles Park. The newly completed park provides for a new courtyard entry into the expanded exhibit space. The additional 14,000 square feet of space will be home to three new galleries within the CTHM complex, including exhibition­s devoted to Western and Southweste­rn fine art, a tribute to Native American Plains Indian art, and Texana history with artifacts primarily from Cuero and Dewitt County. I am presently researchin­g these topics, reviewing new acquisitio­ns, and developing proposals and concepts for these new spaces.

Duchemin: We are also researchin­g the market for Western American fine art. Extraordin­arily little is known about this market. In the context of the global and American art markets, Western art is barely acknowledg­ed, yet it is strong and vibrant within its own orbit around Santa Fe, Scottsdale and Jackson Hole.

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

Oliver: One very well-received exhibition several years ago centered around Andy Warhol’s Cowboys & Indians series. CTHM featured five additional artists, which led to one of our most successful art exhibits to date. Since four of those artists are now deceased, I would like to return to Warhol’s influence on Western art, adding several new living artists as a juxtaposit­ion between Texas and other works from the West, comparing and contrastin­g art, history and popular culture.

 ?? ?? Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum 302 North Esplanade Street, Cuero, Texas 77954 (361) 277-2866, www.chisholmtr­ailmuseum.org
Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum 302 North Esplanade Street, Cuero, Texas 77954 (361) 277-2866, www.chisholmtr­ailmuseum.org
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