Meet & Greet: Renee

Continuing our summer blog series, Meet & Greet, let’s catch up with our Administrative Assistant, Renee Green.

Renee Green: front left

Renee Green: front left

Describe your job.

I provide administrative support to the Director by assisting with exhibitions, scheduling meetings and coordinating related tasks from making logistical arrangements for museum professionals to maintaining the shared Museum calendar. I also prepare reports and databases for museum projects and proofread staff-prepared material.  I answer the Museum’s incoming telephone calls and interact with the Director, Visitor Services/Store Liaison, all of our wonderful staff members, volunteers and the public.

What does any average day entail?

I multi-task every day, but an average day usually begins with a quick, informal meeting with the Director to discuss the day’s events and calendar in order to clarify and prioritize the day.  No two days are ever the same.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is doing many different tasks and learning new things from our various exhibits. Museum exhibits are planned a year or more in advance so on any given day, we are planning for the future. While working on some aspect of a future exhibit, I will receive a phone call or question about an existing exhibit, and then in the next minute need to refer to a past exhibit for any number of reasons.

The other wonderful thing about my job is getting to work with such an amazing and caring staff. Each and every one of them is professional and possesses numerous talents that make working at the Sid Richardson Museum a joy.

What’s the most interesting fun fact you’ve learned about the collection/museum?

There are so many fun stories about Remington and Russell, the collection, Amon Carter and Sid. But one of my favorite stories about Sid Richardson is the one about him and his father making a trade when Sid was just eight years old. On a previous occasion, Sid’s father had given his son a lot in downtown. “When Sid subsequently accepted his father’s offer to trade a bull for the lot. Sid realized he now had a bull, but no place to keep the animal. Sid recalled as an adult that, ‘My daddy taught me a hard lesson with the first trade – but he started me tradin’ for life.’”

Favorite work in the collection? Why?

That is a tough question. I have several favorites and the longer I work at the museum, the more I have begun to appreciate various works for different reasons. When I first came to the museum, my favorite painting was Indians Hunting Buffalo. This was an odd choice for me because the painting depicts a buffalo being shot with arrows, and I am such an animal lover. However, the white horse in this C. M. Russell painting is gorgeous and to this day reminds me of the Greek mythological white horse, Pegasus, minus the wings of course. “IHB,” as we lovingly refer to this painting, still holds my fascination some 8 years later.

Charles M. Russell, Indians Hunting Buffalo (Wild Men's Meat; Buffalo Hunt), 1894, Oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 36 1/8 inches

Charles M. Russell, Indians Hunting Buffalo (Wild Men’s Meat; Buffalo Hunt), 1894, Oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 36 1/8 inches

The Great American West Adventure

It’s that time of year – summer camp! Our American West Adventure Summer Camp introduces children to the time period known as the Great American West. Each day is themed around a different subject matter represented in the museum’s collection consisting of Native Americans, explorers and pioneers, cowboy culture, and artists, such as Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington, who forever captured the essence of life in the 19th century America. Offering a 5-day camp provides students the chance to explore these themes in a deeper, more meaningful way than they might in a typical 45 minute school tour.IMG_3683

Each day of camp features a balance of gallery tours, sketching from the collection, and art-making activities that allow campers to learn about and make their own responses the collection. A few activities we have planned include:

  • oil pastel landscapes based on a painting from the collection
  • designing a cowboy hat band with Conchos
  • metal tooling
  • painting
  • rattle making
  • creating a personal brand design just like a real cowboy

IMG_3776IMG_3867IMG_3915

Whenever possible we try to use authentic art making materials and tools, such as acrylic paints and stretched canvas, to give our visitors a sense of what Remington, Russell, and today’s professional artist use to create art. One of our goals is to expose children to materials they might not have access to in school or at home. At the end of camp, each camper gets to take home a kit of paints, brushes, and paper along with their sketchbook and artwork to continue the imagination process at home.IMG_3855

Overall, we hope that students walk away with a greater appreciation for art of the American West and an understanding of the communities that helped shape this adventurous time period. Our visitor-driven approach aims to impart students with a balance of information, tools, and exploration so that they can make their own personal connections and artistic responses to the museum’s collection. Everyone sees and experiences artwork and art making differently. We try to create an environment that makes children comfortable to learn, feel safe creating ideas, and have fun!

Meet & Greet: Mary

Continuing our summer blog series, Meet & Greet, let’s get acquainted with Mary Burke, our Director.Mary Collage

Describe your job.

I lead a team of professionals who are talented, dedicated and creative and work well together and with our visitors. They make our collection of late 19th – early 20th century art of the American West accessible, inviting and relevant to the community, via the museum’s exhibitions, resources and programming for students, families and adults.

What does an average day entail?

“Average” varies, but normally it involves planning and organizing the upcoming exhibition, overseeing operational aspects of the museum and communicating with team members about the exhibition, resources, volunteers and programs, particularly regarding the development of school and public programming.

What’s the best part of your job?

Experiencing the professionalism of the museum’s team and seeing our amazing docents in action in the gallery. We have enthusiastic volunteers who dedicate many hours preparing for, and leading, tour experiences that help visitors make personal connections with our collection. And, I love working in the heart of Sundance Square!

What’s the most interesting fun fact you’ve learned about the collection?

The Bohlin Parade Saddle, a gift to Sid Richardson from Amon G. Carter and his son, bears a plate indicating Sid was the “Mayor of Primrose, Texas.” The gift represents the sense of camaraderie between Sid and Amon, as Primrose was actually a railroad cattle loading stop on Richardson’s Dutch Branch ranch. When the saddle was presented to Sid, it was accompanied by a plaque which read, in part, “To our mayor, the Hon. Sid W. Richardson, so that when he rides forth to inspect his vast ranges and huge cattle herds he may do so in comfort and the residents thereof, whether quadrupeds or bipeds, may be properly impressed and show to him the deference and due one of his official position.”BOHLIN SADDLE 019

Favorite work in the collection? Why?

Frederic Remington’s The Dry Camp.  Brilliant in color, it is ripe with ambiguity and tension, and for me, symbolic of moments in life when we are at a crossroad, not knowing exactly where a choice may lead us. Since Kat Yount previously selected this as her favorite work, I’ll mention my second favorite, Nai-U-Chi, Chief of the Bow, Zuni 1895 by Charles Francis Browne. There is quiet dignity depicted in this portrait. Nai-U-Chi seems contemplative, ready to offer sage advice. Come see it soon, because when our Western Treasures exhibit closes on September 14, the portrait won’t be on display again at the museum until the summer of 2015.

Charles Francis Browne, Nai-U-Chi: Chief Of The Bow, Zuni 1895, 1895, Oil on canvas, 18 1/2 x 12 3/4 inches

Charles Francis Browne, Nai-U-Chi: Chief Of The Bow, Zuni 1895, 1895, Oil on canvas, 18 1/2 x 12 3/4 inches

The Stories of Art of Story: Utica

This summer during our Art of Story children’s program, participants learn about the elements of storytelling by exploring the artwork in our galleries. To help illustrate the power of narrative, our docents often tell a story inspired by some of the paintings. A favorite among the collection is Russell’s Utica.

Charles M. Russell, Utica (A Quiet day in Utica), 1907, Oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 36 1/8 inches

Charles M. Russell, Utica (A Quiet day in Utica), 1907, Oil on canvas, 24 1/8 x 36 1/8 inches

Utica and the upper Judith River country in Montana were among the last frontiers to be settled because of the frequent Indian raids and their great distance from the protection of forts. Family men hesitated to make their homes in the area until after the gold rush of 1879. The few scattered settlers before that were bachelors, the first of which to build a home, plow a furrow, and plant a crop was John Murphy.

Murphy had come from Utica, New York. Soon others from the same town followed. Murphy laid out some of the lots and plotted the village, which was named Utica, after his home town.

One incident in 1881 created a lot of excitement in Utica. Before Utica had an officially appointed postmaster, John Murphy’s cabin served as a post office for the convenience of settlers. It was winter and the roads were heavy with deep snow. The mail carrier’s wagon broke down. When he left on horseback, he took only the letters, leaving behind a heavier sack for the next trip, which would be in a couple of months or so. The remaining sack got kicked under Murphy’s bunk on the dirt floor of the cabin, becoming the dog bed for the next several months. Eventually, the sack was covered with dust and forgotten.

When the snow was gone, about middle of May, a detachment of soldiers from Fort McGinnis rode into Utica. They had been trailing a sack of money lost several months prior and asked if any had been found. The lost sack contained the $40,000 payroll for the soldiers at Fort McGinnis and had disappeared. While the men searched the cabin, Murphy remembered about the sack the dog had been sleeping on all winter.

“That’s it!” gasped the soldier. “That’s the $40,000 we’ve been moving heaven and earth to find, and it’s been a bed for your dog!”

After that, three of Utica’s doctors built the post office building on the east side of Main Street.

Adapted from Old Utica by Charles Waite.

Cultural Education

Last month we had a visit from the FWISD American Indian Education Program during their summer cultural camp. We caught up with AIEP Liaison Alice Barrientez to learn more about this program.IMG_3504

What is the American Indian Education Program?

AIEP is a grant funded program through the Office of Indian Education, U.S. Department of Education.  It provides academic support and cultural education for identified students who attend FWISD. Our goal is to ensure that each American Indian student successfully completes high school prepared for higher learning.

The program was implemented into school districts nationwide during the Kennedy administration. Research revealed that Native students were struggling. Reports indicated: high rate of dropouts, high rate in substance abuse, high rate in health issues both physical and mental.IMG_3521What kind of activities and cultural education opportunities does the program offer? 

The program delivers four camps throughout the school year.  The first camp focuses on language arts and includes a writing camp called PEN MAN, which provides an opportunity for students to enhance their writing skills and, for first time campers, to discover their tribal history, traditions and language.

The second camp is our science and math camp, called NASTUMLA, or Native American Science Technology Using Material from Land for Art. During this camp students walk back in time to learn the value and the evolution of fire making. Likewise, students discover how to distinguish plants that are edible and plants that are used for medicine.

Our other two camps include the Totem camp, focused on the roles of animals, and the Cultural camp, which is exploratory and provides hands-on activities.  These experiences are gained through visiting and utilizing our cultural based centers such as the Fort Worth Zoo, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Noble Planetarium and IMAX Omni Theater.

Why did you choose to visit the Sid Richardson Museum?

The Sid Richardson Museum’s collection captures Native culture on canvas, allowing our students to learn about various aspects of American Indian tradition. The collection also provides an opportunity to show the history of the U.S. and Native people before the influx of Western settlers, illustrating how both groups came to share the same land and learned to coexist.

The museum visit also includes a studio activity. Art is very much a part of American Indian culture. Painting in the studio is a great way for the students to express themselves.IMG_3582IMG_3532

Why is the American Indian Education Program important to the Fort Worth community?

It is important for the city to know that American Indians are part of the community. We are proud of our cultural history and want to educate the public about our heritage. As such, we hold an annual student Pow Wow at the Billingsley Field House behind Farrington Field stadium.

To learn more about this program, visit the FWISD website.

Happy Birthday, Frank!

Today marks SRM artist Frank Tenney Johnson’s birthday (1874-1939).

Although he spent much of his career in New York and California, Frank journeyed through Texas on several occasions, including his 1930 appearance at the annual Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show in Fort Worth.

Previously, during the summer of 1921, en route to California on one of their many automobile excursions from New York, Frank Tenney Johnson and his wife Vinnie stopped in Texas. The artist had promised to personally deliver a painting that was purchased by Frank S. Hastings, manager of the SMS Ranch in West Texas. Earlier, Frank had made a drawing that became the frontispiece of Mr. Hasting’s autobiography, A Ranchman’s Recollections.

Frank Tenney Johnson from A Ranchman’s Recollections by Frank S. Hastings (Chicago: The Breeder’s Gazette, 1921)

Frank Tenney Johnson from A Ranchman’s Recollections by Frank S. Hastings (Chicago: The Breeder’s Gazette, 1921)

The sprawling SMS Ranch was named after the Swedish Svante Magnus Swenson, who came to Texas in 1838. After becoming a successful merchant in Richmond and Austin, Mr. Swenson purchased land grants out on the West Texas frontier. By the late 1870s, his two sons began developing the land. At the time of Frank Tenney Johnson’s visit, the SMS Ranch consisted of over 400,000 acres and covered parts of nine counties.

The news of the couple’s arrival in Stamford, Texas made it into the local newspaper. The story was even sent as a special dispatch and immediately published in the New York World. The Johnson’s stayed at the ranch, providing the artist with a wealth of lively material from which to sketch and photograph. In fact, several of the SMS cowboys and horses appear in his later paintings. One of his favorite models was a descendant of the Swenson family, the brawny A. M. G. “Swede” Swenson, who had been a star of the University of Texas football team.

Meet & Greet: Les

For the third installment of our summer blog series, Meet & Greet, let’s catch up with Les Cleere, our Site and Exhibitions Coordinator.Les collage

Describe your job.

I oversee the museum’s operating systems, HVAC, and lighting. I coordinate both sub-contractors involved in building maintenance and art handlers helping to setup for art installations/de-installations. I also setup and assist with special events and education programs.

What does an average day entail?

Changing lighting in the galleries as needed prior to morning tours, securing loading zone for the tour buses, and in some instances setting up seating in a gallery for tours or events, along with building maintenance, and work related to the collection – whether it be a light dusting of frames or measuring for new frames to be created in the future.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is having the opportunity to work closely with the museum’s collection and staff. I learn, see, and do something different most every day.

What’s the most interesting fun fact you’ve learned about the collection?

Charles Russell never tried to be anybody but himself, a man who took pleasure in his work. He knew his artwork was good and worth its value, and was blessed with a wife who, through her business savvy, helped Charlie receive the recognition he deserved.

Favorite work in the collection? Why?

My favorite work in the collection is Russell’s Western Scene. Charlie made do with the materials he had available – a huge plank of wood and some house paints. Over time, through his imagination and talent, he came a long way as an artist.

Charles M. Russell, Western Scene (The Shelton Saloon Painting), c. 1885, Oil on wood panel, 17 1/2 inches x 69 inches

Charles M. Russell, Western Scene (The Shelton Saloon Painting), c. 1885, Oil on wood panel, 17 1/2 inches x 69 inches

Stories of the West

Throughout the summer, in partnership with the Fort Worth Library’s Worth Reading Program, the museum is presenting Art of Story children’s workshops. This program is an opportunity for kids to explore the American West while learning how to compose a story.

Storytelling is important because stories help us connect with each other and are central to our mental processes for understanding, remembering, and communicating. Stories make it easy to learn and teach us the history and values of our people and other cultures. Plus, stories are fun!IMG_3319IMG_3357

Remington and Russell were great storytellers, as is evidenced in their paintings. Each artist had a different style of storytelling. Russell liked to capture the entire scene on a canvas, whereas Remington would leave clues that might hint to actions taking place beyond the picture plane. Through these artists’ works, our docents discuss character, setting, action, as well as myth and storytelling.IMG_3370IMG_3385 cropped

Inspired by the artwork in our galleries, the students take to the canvas, creating their own story by painting a landscape with authentic artist supplies.IMG_3397 editArt of story collage 1Art of Story collage 2IMG_3429 cropped

 To learn more about Worth Reading visit: www.Wr365.org.

Meet & Greet: Betsy

Continuing our summer blog series, Meet & Greet, let’s get acquainted with the Sid Richardson Museum’s Director of Education Resources, Betsy Thomas.IMG_2109Describe your job.

I oversee the Archives and Library, which houses all records related to the Museum’s collection and history (including ads and reproductions of the Museum’s artworks). As a part of the Education Department, I co-teach in the studio classroom, working with the Director of School and Family Programs in teaching hands-on art activities related to the works displayed in the Museum. I also assist the Museum Director with exhibition preparation and copyediting of Museum publications.

What does any average day entail?

I get to do so many different things that it’s hard to describe an average day.  Many days I start out in the studio classroom assisting school groups with their art projects. I scan and organize ads and reproduction requests pretty consistently.  Lately, I’ve been digitizing previously stored documents from the Museum’s 2006 renovation and expansion.

What’s the best part of your job?

Getting to try so many different things. I get to see aspects of how the Museum and other staff members work. Getting to work with the Director of School and Family Programs, for instance, with school groups, workshops, and camps is exciting.  I enjoy attending programs organized by the Adult Audiences Manager and see that side of the Museum’s programming. It’s also a privilege to work directly with the Museum’s Director on exhibition preparation.

What’s the most interesting fun fact you’ve learned about the collection?

One was the acquisition of Frederic Remington’s The Dry Camp, because it was purchased as a surprise for the opening of the Museum. It’s fun to read the letters during that time to get a glimpse into what was going on when the Museum first opened in 1982.mc1981_ 0020 Dry Camp Purchase

Favorite work in the collection? Why?

Probably A Taint on the Wind by Frederic Remington. Even though it has an ominous feeling about it, I love Remington’s nocturnes and his dramatic use of color and action. It’s a very striking painting. I always find myself gravitating towards it in the gallery.

Frederic Remington, A Taint On the Wind, 1906, Oil on canvas, 27 1/8 x 40 inches

Frederic Remington, A Taint On the Wind, 1906, Oil on canvas, 27 1/8 x 40 inches

Nocturnes

Contrabandista a la Frontera is unusual among Frank Tenney Johnson’s oeuvre, or collection of works, in portraying gunfire but representative in showing one of his favorite color schemes. This work suggests why Johnson’s reputation as a pure painter – an artist rather than an illustrator – secured his election as an associate in the National Academy of Design in 1929 and as a full member eight years later, a distinction bestowed upon only three other artists represented in our collection: Gilbert Gaul, William R. Leigh, and Peter Hurd.

Frank Tenney Johnson, Contrabandista a la Frontera, 1925, Oil on canvas, 36 1/8 x 45 1/8 inches

Frank Tenney Johnson, Contrabandista a la Frontera, 1925, Oil on canvas, 36 1/8 x 45 1/8 inches

Like Remington, Frank Tenney Johnson took an interest in representing night light, also referred to as nocturnes. As mentioned previously on the blog, a group of turn-of-the-century artists called tonalists followed a style of painting that was limited in color scale and explored the delicate effects of light to create suggestive moods. Johnson would have seen some of Remington’s best nocturnes during the artist’s one-man shows at M. Knoedler & Co. between 1906-1909. While Remington produced most of his night paintings during the latter years of his life, Johnson crafted compositions of moonlight, dusk, and twilight scenes for much of his career and earned his reputation as a fine artist from his nocturnes. In fact, it was one of his night scenes that warranted the artist his first award, the Salmagundi Club’s Shaw Prize, in 1923.

Frederic Remington, The Luckless Hunter, 1909, Oil on canvas, 26 7/8 x 28 7/8 inches

Frederic Remington, The Luckless Hunter, 1909, Oil on canvas, 26 7/8 x 28 7/8 inches

Tonalists intended the low-keyed colors of night to obscure, throwing a veil over the scene. However, for Johnson, the veil was one of beauty. He viewed moonlight as nature’s indirect lighting. In his composition, Contrabandista a la Frontera, the moonbeam spotlights the group of men, casting a greenish light on the scene. Despite the limited range in tone, one can still distinguish a variety of details and hues, as the moonlight exposes a multitude of colors. The painting glows.