How do artists shape our sense of place? For generations, communities of artists in the American West have merged the past with the present, blending new techniques with long-standing traditions.
In the late 19th century, new trading posts in the West helped generate new audiences for artworks created by Native American communities, from San Ildefonso Pueblo potters in New Mexico, to Pomo Basket Makers in northern California, to Navajo weavers in Arizona. In the early 20th century, the distinct cultures and landscapes of New Mexico drew artists from the eastern United States. A group of painters founded the Taos Society of Artists in 1915, helping establish an arts community in New Mexico that continues to thrive to this day. Forty years later the Cowboy Artists of America came together, an alliance of painters and sculptors who rejected modernism in favor of romanticized views of the past.
Recent artists in the West continue to forge new paths. Carrie Ballantyne’s photorealist drawings of strong western women counter stereotypes of a masculine, rugged American West. Navajo artist Shirley Jones creates textiles based on traditional pictorial patterns with a modern twist: Her scenes of the West include airplanes and automobiles.
These artworks will be featured in Looking West: The Rumley Family Collection, an exhibition that will open December 10, 2016 and run through March 26, 2017 at Gilcrease Museum. Wayne Rumley has been a major supporter of Gilcrease Museum for decades. His guidance, along with his wife, Andrea, shaped the many years of Rendezvous art sales and events that benefited the museum and its acquisition fund. This exhibition will pay tribute to Rumley’s connection with Gilcrease Museum and highlight his extraordinary personal collection of historical and contemporary artwork.
Rumley’s collection ranges from abstract design to crisp photorealism in artworks created across time, forming a distinct sense of the American West.