Will James and Woody Guthrie

Will James and Woody Guthrie

Biographies of famous people have also been my greatest interest so I was immediately attracted to these two exhibits….

Welcome back.   A few months back I wrote a piece about the artist, author and cowboy Will James. The self portrait he painted on a wall in a remote line shack on Waite Phillips’ UU Bar Ranch that I had just viewed spurred my interest in his life.

Will James Drawing
Drawing from the Will James exhibit at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
With that said I’ll come back to the present day and  start off this week telling you about an exhibit of his work that is on display at the Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (which I still call The Cowboy Hall of Fame) through October 14th. The couple of dozen highly detailed pencil drawings  are nothing less than fabulous. When you think of the conditions he worked in, many times drawing by the light of a candle in some cow camp, the beauty of his work takes on a whole new light. It is just hard to imagine how this self taught artist with a very limited education could have created these wonderful pieces.

James was also an author and his books are on display along with several movie posters from the films that were adapted from his writing. Photographs of James along with handwritten letters tell the story of a colorful life that I knew little about until recently. It’s a life well worth learning about and definitely worth the price of admission. The Western Heritage Awards weekend is also coming up here on April 20-21, you long time readers may remember that I’ve attended this event for the past two years and its one of my favorites. Tickets to this one get hard to find as the date draws closer so if you’re interested, better hurry.

This week I also had the opportunity to visit Gilcrease Museum where the “Woody at One Hundred: The Woody Guthrie Centennial Celebration 1912-2012” exhibit just opened and will be on view until April 29th. Born on July 14, 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma, as many of you know Guthrie went on to world wide fame but this exhibit focuses on Woody Guthrie the man through his personal journals and drawings.

These works offer insight into Guthrie’s experiences during the dust bowl and the great depression that led him to create the famous songs that have inspired Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp and many others.

With their extensive permanent collections and special exhibits such as these, both museums offer a fresh perspective on our own experiences. I’ve met few folks who didn’t come away from a trip to a museum with some kind of new wisdom or vision relating to their daily life.

Till next time I’ll see ya down the road….




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