William Henry Dunton, (American, 1878-1936), The Cattle Buyer, 1921, oil on canvas, 50 x 60 in., Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas. 1.21.402.

(ORANGE, TX) The Stark Museum of Art is preparing for one of the most significant exhibitions in its history, Branding the American West: Paintings and Films, 1900-1950, opening Saturday, March 11, 2017 and on view through September 9, 2017.

Prefacing the exhibition opening was the publication of an award-winning companion catalog with essays by scholars from around the nation, Branding the American West: Paintings and Films, 1900-1950, edited by Marian Wardle and Stark Museum of Art Curator, Sarah E. Boehme. Dr. Boehme will be present during opening day, Saturday, March 11, 2017, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. to personally sign copies of the book.

The hard-bound, beautifully illustrated exhibition companion catalog is currently available for purchase at the Stark Museum of Art Museum Store. It retails for $39.95 and makes a dynamic addition to one’s home, collection or a personal library.

Also on opening day, enjoy exploring this exhibition with an SMA Educator during Art Talks: Casual Encounters with Art from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This program is a chance for guests to engage in an informal yet informative chat with a member of the Museum’s Education staff and expand the Museum experience in new and insightful ways.

The Branding the American West: Paintings and Films, 1900-1950 exhibition highlights more than 80 works of art and related film content highlighting the changing brands, or imagery of violence, beauty and celebration of the American West. See a side of The West you’ve never seen before!

Specifically, the exhibition is the first to examine collectively the imaging of the American West by members of the Taos Society of Artists and the California-based artist, Maynard Dixon. It showcases works from the first half of the twentieth century portraying images of the landscape, people, and environment of a West immersed in change. These pieces both enhance and contradict the narrow representation of the West at the beginning of the twentieth century as a place of violence and action.  

Oscar Edmund Berninghaus, (1874-1952), Movie Night at Taos Theater, 1939, oil on canvas, 30 × 40 in. Private collection.

More about the Exhibition

The exhibition will showcase masterworks from the exceptional but seldom-seen collection of Taos-school paintings in the Stark collection and little-know paintings from Brigham Young University Museum of Art’s excellent Maynard Dixon holdings. “This is the first and probably only time these works will appear together,” said Marian Wardle, Curator of American Art at the BYU Museum of Art.

Sarah Boehme, Curator at the Stark Museum of Art, said, “For those who interact often with our collections, this exhibition will bring works of art that are new to them, both from the BYU Museum of Art and from works in the Stark collection that have not been exhibited recently. Those works, along with the interpretation of the exhibition, will provide a new way of seeing some familiar works of art.”

Also, Western films and promotional pieces present popular imagery as part of the exhibition. Selected examples of Western art by other artists, such as Frederic Remington and N.C. Wyeth, will enhance the exhibition through contrasts of approach. The works portray the communities and cultures of the West in influential ways and reveal how the changing economics and demographics of the region played into Western imagery. They reframe the West of popular consumption at home and abroad and ultimately show the beauty, violence, contradictions and progress of America’s most beguiling region.

The exhibition appeared first at Brigham Young University Museum of Art February 19 to August 13, 2016, traveled to the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia for display from October 29, 2016 to February 5, 2017, and will open at the Stark Museum of Art on March 11, 2017 and continue through September 9, 2017.

The exhibition Branding the American West: Paintings and Films, 1900-1950 is organized by the Brigham Young University Museum of Art and the Stark Museum of Art, and made possible in part by the generosity of the Nelda C. and H. J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, and the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.

About the Book

A fully illustrated catalog of the exhibition, Branding the American West: Paintings and Films, 1900-1950, edited by Marian Wardle and Sarah E. Boehme and published by the University of Oklahoma Press, accompanies the exhibition. It includes essays by an interdisciplinary team of noted scholars from around the country. This publication was awarded the Mountain Plains Museum Association Publication Design Award in the Books and Exhibition Catalogues category. Dr. Boehme accepted the award in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in October of 2016.

Essayists contributing to the publication are Jimmy L. Bryan Jr., Associate Professor of History, Lamar University; Leanne Howe, Eidson Distinguished Professor of American Literature, University of Georgia; Elizabeth Hutchinson, Associate Professor of American Art History, Barnard College, Columbia University; John Ott, Professor of Art History, James Madison University; Dean Rader Professor of English, University of San Francisco; and Susan S. Rugh, Professor of History, Brigham Young University.

About the Stark Museum of Art

The Stark Museum of Art houses one of the nation’s most significant collections of American Western art and is located in the heart of downtown historic Orange, Texas. Paintings, sculpture, prints and rare books interpret the West from 19th century frontier artists to the 20th century artistic colonies in New Mexico and focus on the stunning land, dramatic people and diverse wildlife of the American West. The Museum features artists such as Frederic Remington, John James Audubon, Charles Marion Russell and Georgia O’Keeffe. Also featured is a significant collection of American Indian objects, including baskets, pottery, clothing and jewelry. The Stark Museum of Art is a program of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, a private operating foundation that aims to encourage and assist education and to improve and enrich the quality of life in Southeast Texas.

About the BYU Museum of Art

One of the largest and best-attended art museums in the Mountain West, the BYU Museum of Art offers a dynamic exhibition schedule that includes displays of its permanent collection, world-class traveling shows and thought-provoking exhibitions organized by museum curators. One of the museum’s most important roles is its contribution to the academic mission of Brigham Young University. From the research and study of the artworks in the permanent collection, to the teaching and learning that occurs in classrooms and galleries, the museum plays an important role in the academic pursuits of many students at BYU. Concurrently, the museum seeks to connect to broad community audiences through its exhibitions and educational programming.