The notion that the old west is dead and gone, never to return, is something Steven M. Karr abhors.
The president of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum sees the cowboy culture alive and well among today’s farmers, ranchers and artisans. And events such as this fall’s Cowboy Crossings Western art sales and exhibitions at the museum put the pageantry and artistry of a thriving Western spirit on display for the world to see.
“I worry people will only look at the West as something that was a snapshot in time when, truthfully, it is a video and the camera is never going to be turned off,” says Karr, who is in his second year as museum president.
Cowboy Crossings, which opens Oct. 10 and runs through Jan. 3, 2016, meshes the traditional and the contemporary.
Art meets the everyday life of Modern cowboys
The event features the 50th annual sale and exhibition of the Cowboy Artists of America and the 17th edition of the same event for the Traditional Cowboy Artists of America.
The CAA’s mission is to authentically preserve and perpetuate the culture of Western life in art through a variety of mediums.
The TCAA are dedicated to ensuring that skills, such as saddle making, bit and spur making, silversmithing and rawhide braiding, never die out.
“It’s really a combination of many factors,” Karr says of the event. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to harken back to elements of Western heritage but also to look at Western art in its most contemporary form. I think it also reminds everyone that the West is not a part of our past simply, but very much a part of our present.”
Cowboy Crossings VIP events include lunch and dinner options with featured artists, group cultural excursions in Oklahoma City and an exclusive preview of the CAA and TCAA exhibitions beginning Oct. 8. Reservations are required.
Don Reeves, McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture and curator at the museum, notes the event routinely draws artists and visitors from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Argentina.
Working art, such as hand-made saddles (which can run upward of $50,000) and spurs along with tooled leather and rawhide braiding, will be featured alongside paintings and sculptures.
More than 40 active and emeritus members of the two organizations combined will exhibit their works. All together, more than 100 paintings, drawings and sculptures will be featured with 50 pieces of functional art.
“This is really important for our organization to ensure that this story is not only told but brought up to date,” Reeves says, which ensures the story of the Old West lives on.
► Saddle Up
For more information about Cowboy Crossings’ opening weekend activities or to make a reservation, visit nationalcowboymuseum.org or call 478.2250.