Dedicated Docents: Nancy C.

As we gear up for a new class of docents this fall, we want to shine the spotlight on our volunteers who continue to dedicate their time serving the community through the museum.  On today’s “Dedicated Docent” blog series, I’d like to introduce you to Nancy C.nancy C
SRM
: What drew you to the Sid Richardson Museum?

Nancy: This museum is a wonderful smaller museum that houses amazing Western Art by Charles Russell and Frederic Remington with other western painters.  I have the privilege to know the Director of the Museum and another docent, and they got me interested in discovering more about this museum by becoming a docent.

SRM: What do you want visitors to get out of the tour?

Nancy: I want the visitors to the Sid Richardson Museum to learn about the past.  What the “wild west” or “the old west” eras were about.  Russell and Remington were there and they painted the times they knew were no longer going to be there.  The school students have so much fun, they get to experience art and create an art project during their visit to the museum.

SRM: What are some of your most memorable tour moments?

Nancy: Our students who visit are my favorite!  Some have never been to an art museum; the science museum perhaps but not here.  We have the opportunity to open their minds and hearts and create a new experience for them.  They learn that our paintings tell stories, and are pictures of what our history is about.  It is very rewarding when they learn that by using their imagination they can understand that the paintings have sound, light and movement.  I also participate in the museum’s special events and adult tours.  These groups have a different take on art, and I have the opportunity to share with them the best of what I know about the art we have.

SRM: How has being a docent changed you?

Nancy: Being a docent I have learned many new things:  how bronze statues were created in the late 19th century, how to view art though children’s eyes, and most of all how to just enjoy art.  Art doesn’t always need to be analyzed. Does the art move me? Just enjoy art for art’s sake.

SRM: What’s your favorite part of the job?

Nancy: My favorite part of being a docent is learning new things, new projects, new ways to view history, new ways to teach children about art, and being part of a wonderful museum such as the Sid Richardson Museum.

 

If you are interested in becoming a docent and are curious to learn more about the docent program, please join us next Monday, August 8th @10am for a Prospective Docent Coffee. Our next Docent Class begins September 12. Applications are due by August 12.

Summer at the Sid

School’s out, summer is in, let the drama stop and the ART begin!Campers3

What a wonderful time we have had with our Summer Art Camps! This year we hosted two, week-long camps: one for children between the ages of 6-9 years old and the other for tweens (10-13 years old). This year’s theme was Traveling Through the West!Campers1Campers2

Each day, camp began with a sketchbook warm-up to help jump-start their creativity. Campers spent time each day in the gallery looking at artworks from our permanent collection with the help of our docents. They also spent time in the studio daily creating their own works of art. Campers created several projects in the studio: air-dry clay pots/vases, acrylic painted landscapes, watercolor wildflowers, weavings, designing a brand and decorating a bandana, chalk pastel portraits and animal portraits. They were challenged to look closer, draw bigger, and explore their ideas and subjects!Campers 5Campers 6Campers 7

Students also learned about what life was like in the West, who they might have seen, what they might have heard and saw, and discussed how they might have felt if they had traveled West. Campers spent time considering many perspectives of the West: the artist, the settler, the American Indian, the cowboy, and even the Pony Express Rider. These perspectives were explored through story-telling, reading, gallery activities and games, looking exercises, and dialog with our team and their peers. Our campers were so eager to learn and were a delight to have with us this summer!Campers 4

Each camp finished with an art show. Campers invited their families and friends to join us at the Museum to take a tour and celebrate their artwork created at camp! Campers even went through some “junior” docent training so that they could facilitate the tour for their visitors. At the end of the art show campers were able to collect their artworks, but not before enjoying some delicious goodies…what would a kids’ art show be without cupcakes and cookies?!Campers 9art showCampers 8

We are already in anticipation for next summer! Thank you campers for joining us! It was fun learning and creating together!

 

Andrea Hassenteuffel, Director of School & Family Programs

Farewell, Gus and Captain Call!

On Sunday, Fort Worth bid farewell to Gus and Captain Call and the Lonesome Dove Reunion and Trail.End of LD Wagon2h

Thanks to Mayor Betsy Price’s vision, our community has had numerous opportunities this spring to enjoy treasures from the Lonesome Dove Collection, permanently held at the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University (TSU) in San Marcos. TSU, the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau and generous sponsors and partners brought the beloved Western Lonesome Dove to our city via exhibits, screenings and panel discussions with cast and crew. The Trail featured costumes, props, and photographs from the Lonesome Dove Production Archive.

The Sid Richardson Museum in Sundance Square was the Trail’s kickoff site and host for the exhibition Lonesome Dove: The Art of Story. More than 27,000 visitors from 50 states and 22 countries traced the path of Lonesome Dove, from Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the movie script, and they explored the American West through Frederic Remington and Charles Russell artworks, a cowboy’s cattle-drive diary, and objects from the Lonesome Dove archives.

If you missed this exceptional opportunity, the Trail continues at the Old Jail Art Center in Albany, Texas, through July 23. It’ll be worth the ride!

Mary E. Burke, Director

The Story of the Cover

Our current exhibition features a painting by artist Shannon Stirnweis.

Shannon Stirnweis | Lonesome Dove | 1985 | Oil on canvas mounted on wood panel | The Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University

Shannon Stirnweis | Lonesome Dove | 1985 | Oil on canvas mounted on wood panel | The Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University

Look familiar? This is the image that graced the original cover of the 1985 publication of Larry McMurtry’s novel Lonesome Dove. How does an artist develop a book cover design? Our research volunteer, Shelle McMillen, spoke with Mr. Stirnweis to learn more.

Shannon Stirnweis has had much experience working in the book publishing industry, having produced several book covers for Western literary authors like Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour. One day, Stirnweis received an assignment from a publisher along with a copy of the Lonesome Dove manuscript. Stirnweis read the story to find inspiration for what he would represent on the cover. The artist created three drafts, each different compositions, within a period of two weeks, which was longer than the amount of time he would typically spend on developing a concept.

Shannon Stirnweis | Lonesome Dove Book Jacket | Book | The Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University

Shannon Stirnweis | Lonesome Dove Book Jacket | Book | The Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University

The publishers were attracted to Stirnweis’ color sketches that included the trail herd and Gus’s tent. His final painting illustrates the tent and campsite Gus assembled for Lorie after she was abandoned by her travel partner, Jake Spoon. Crouched in the far left corner of the composition is Blue Duck, the notorious bandit from Gus and Call’s Texas Ranger days. The scene foreshadows the impending danger of Lorie’s kidnapping and the ensuing hardships Gus will endure to rescue her. Trailing in the background is the ongoing adventure of Captain Call and his cattle drive as they remain steadfast in their journey to Montana.

What do you think? Did Stirnweis capture the essence of Lonesome Dove? They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Or in the case of the hundreds of pages of Lonesome Dove, 365,712 words to be exact.

Cowboy Journals and the Art of Handwriting

Have you ever kept a journal or a diary? Did you ever travel with your journal?

In 1868, Texas cowboy Jack Bailey kept a journal of his experience on a cattle drive. It is one of the earliest known day-by-day, first-hand accounts of a cattle drive from Texas to Kansas during the period just after the Civil War.

The era of the cattle drive was a short-lived period, from about 1865-1895. But it is from this period of the open-range cattle industry that many of the myths, legends, or heroic concepts we have of cowboys today was derived.

It’s estimated that 6-9 million head of cattle were driven by cowboys from Texas to Kansas between 1867-1886. What do you think was the average age of the cowboys who drove these cattle?

Charles M. Russell | Breaking Camp | ca. 1885 | Oil on canvas | Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

Charles M. Russell | Breaking Camp | ca. 1885 | Oil on canvas | Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

Most of these cowboys were young men in their late teens early twenties. Jack Bailey was 37 yrs old when he ventured on his 3 month journey. Relatively speaking, Bailey was an old man doing a young man’s job.

How often do you find a cowboy who keeps a journal while on the job? The answer is not often. Most accounts of the cattle drive experience we have are recollections told decades later. The earliest known diary of a trail drive was kept by George Duffield in 1866, two years before Jack Bailey’s journey. But Duffield’s record contains little detail of the drive, only short summaries of each day’s activities. In contrast, Bailey’s journal is a narrative. He shares a story, the ups and the downs, sprinkled with a few humorous anecdotes.Bailey Journey

Bailey kept his journal in a small notebook, similar to the ones sold in drug and general stores in the West during the late 1860s. Aside from a few dates that are printed at the beginning of entries, everything else is written in black ink, perhaps iron gall.

Bailey’s writing consistently stays within the printed blue lines. Remember that he’s writing these entries while on the trail, not from the comfort of a desk at his home. Bailey’s penmanship is good, suggesting that he learned it in school, where he would have learned  Spencerian handwriting.

Do any of you remember learning cursive in school? Do you still write in cursive?

In the mid-1800s, abolitionist and bookkeeper Platt Rogers Spencer attempted to democratize American penmanship by formulating a cursive writing system, known as the Spencerian method, which was taught by textbook. Schools and businesses quickly adopted this form of handwriting, so much so that the Spencerian form of penmanship became the standard at time when an elegant handwriting was much prized.

Jack Baily Journal, 2001.074, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Jack Baily Journal, 2001.074, Dickinson Research Center, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

IMG_7186How many of you still mail hand-written letters to friends/relatives and write notes to loved ones? Today, in our computer age, a fine, beautiful, and legible handwriting brings a warm personal touch to our correspondence. The museum recently hosted a program in which participants learned the principles of Spencerian script, practice their handwriting, and even learned how to fashion their own feather quill pen.

sidstudiosupplies2sidstudiobags

Dedicated Docents: Jim

The Sid Richardson Museum docents are a special group of volunteers. In any given week, they may give a guided tour to a group of students, share our collection with a visiting group of adults, help lead activities during children’s programs, or enlighten guests during a special event.

The museum is starting up a new class of docents in Fall 2016. If you’re interested in joining our team, we will be posting more information on our website soon. Stay tuned!

For now, let’s continue our “Dedicated Docents” blog series. Today I’d like to feature our docent Jim.

Jim

SRM: What drew you to the Sid Richardson Museum?

Jim: I ran across an invitation posted in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for docents and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting to learn more about western art and share that with others!’

SRM: What do you want visitors to get out of the tour?

Jim: I would like to hope that visitors would learn more about the museum, the benefactor, the artists, the stories and the history the art tells us and what the period of the Old West was like.

SRM: What are some of your most memorable tour moments?

Jim: Tours are memorable and rewarding when the visitor(s) become involved with the moment and offer questions and responses.

SRM: How has being a docent changed you?

Jim: The docent experience has allowed me to grow in my appreciation of art – even toward modern art – and gives me fleeting thoughts to try painting.

SRM: What’s your favorite part of the job?

Jim: Continuing to learn every day and having the opportunity to share that new knowledge with others.

Lights. Camera. Action!

Our current exhibit, Lonesome Dove: The Art of Story, traces the path of Lonesome Dove from Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the original screenplay and filming of the legendary TV miniseries. Included in the display of The Wittliff Collection’s film production archives are original and facsimiles of storyboards. But what is a storyboard and why are they important to the making of a movie?IMG_7017

Michael Peal | Facsimiles, Storyboards for Stampede Scene | The Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University

Michael Peal | Facsimiles, Storyboards for Stampede Scene | The Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University

Michael Peal was the storyboard artist for the Lonesome Dove miniseries. Growing up, Peal loved movies and drawing, which eventually led him to study film and art in college. One of his first forays into the film industry came in the 1970s when Peal met Bob Burns, the art director for Texas Chainsaw Massacre, whom Peal assisted during the film’s pre-production. Later, Michael worked as the storyboard artist for films like the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple and Red Headed Stranger, which was written and directed by future Lonesome Dove screenplay writer and co-executive producer, Bill Wittliff.

What is a storyboard? It is a sequence of drawings representing the movement of the story, all seen from the camera’s point of view. Storyboards are typically part of the pre-production process. As a storyboard artist, Michael worked closely with the director of Lonesome Dove, Simon Wincer, turning the general narrative of the screenplay into a visual story.

What is the purpose of a storyboard?

  • Problem solving – save money, anticipate needs, people and equipment. For example, in the case of Lonesome Dove, the storyboards helped established a clear idea of how many head of cattle and horses are needed for each shot.
  • Creativity – ideas, to tell a story – creatively. Storyboards are the last opportunity to make the most of a story, visually and dramatically, before the director is on the set, where time is money on a big scale.
  • Communication – all department heads get a copy of the storyboards in advance of production so they will know what is expected of their departments for the scenes.

Storyboards are still used in film productions to this day.LD_22_1a_01

LD_22_1a_01v

Michael Peal | Sketches, Stampede Scene | 1987 | No. 2 pencil on Strathmore 80# smooth paper | The Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University

Michael Peal | Sketches, Stampede Scene | 1987 | No. 2 pencil on Strathmore 80# smooth paper | The Wittliff Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University

Beef Bonanza!

The Texas Cattle Trail era is a mythological period of American history. The language and characters of the period have become part of our identity. You’ve heard of maverick politicians. Ever use the phrase “time to hit the trail?”

Cattle herd and cowboy, circa 1902

Cattle herd and cowboy, circa 1902

After the Civil War, the cattle business blossomed, largely by the booming industry in the north and reconstruction in the south. From 1867 to 1895, over 98,250,000 cattle trailed from Texas to northern markets. Beef was starting to replace pork as the country’s preferred meat product.

In 1867, Joseph G. McCoy, a visionary in the beef industry, began working with railroads like Union Pacific to build a rail spur in Abilene, Kansas, where he opened his operation the following year. McCoy advertised for northern cattle buyers and Texas cattle drivers. In his first season, 35,000 head of cattle passed through his depot. That number doubled the following year and doubled again by 1870. In 1874, McCoy penned the classic Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest, which scholars consider to be one of the most important books about the early cattle industry.IMG_6648

Joseph G. McCoy. Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest, By Joseph G. McCoy, the Pioneer Western Cattle Shipper. Kansas City, MO: Ramsey, Millett & Hudson, 1874.

Joseph G. McCoy. Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest, By Joseph G. McCoy, the Pioneer Western Cattle Shipper. Kansas City, MO: Ramsey, Millett & Hudson, 1874.

What was life like on cattle drives? A trail crew, or “outfit,” usually consisted of 10-12 men. The ideal size of a trail herd was about 2,500. Rather than race to the cattle depot, the trail boss made sure the herd kept a steady pace of 7-10 miles per day so as to keep the cattle plump for market.

One of the biggest dangers on the drive was crossing rivers. As the crew traveled north, the rivers became wider. Most men could not swim.

Cowhand, waddy, cowpuncher, vaqueros, buckaroos. These were the common names for what we now refer to as cowboys. Who were these men?

The species “cowhand” is no special breed of human; but he is a special type created by his special way of life. Perhaps, though, it does take a special kind of guy to choose to be a cowhand. The cowhand is possessed by a sort of pioneering spirit; he likes nature – that is, nature in the raw. He doesn’t mind taking a chance win or lose. He can take it on the chin and keep coming back for more. – Fay E. Ward

Cowboys came from Texas and everywhere else. The group was diverse: Black cowboys, Mexican cowboys, American Indian cowboys, British cowboys. It’s estimated as many as 20% of the cowhands were born outside the U.S.

James Sanks Brisbin | The Beef Bonanza: Or, How to Get Rich on the Plains | 1881 | Book | The Rees-Jones Collection

James Sanks Brisbin | The Beef Bonanza: Or, How to Get Rich on the Plains | 1881 | Book | The Rees-Jones Collection

By the 1880s, the landscape of ranches and the cattle business was changing. The trail industry was dissolving into the hands of larger ranches, often financed by British capital and other non-local entities. James Brisbin, vice-president of the National Cattle and Horse Grower’s Association, actively promoted investment. In 1881, Brisbin published The Beef Bonanza; Or How to Get Rich on the Plains. Historians consider this publication to be the most important promotional book to draw major financial investors from northern Europe and the East Coast to the cattle industry.

Frederic Remington | The Fall of the Cowboy | 1895 | Oil on canvas | Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection

Frederic Remington | The Fall of the Cowboy | 1895 | Oil on canvas | Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas, Amon G. Carter Collection

The year 1885 marked an end of an era. With the invention of barbed wire, the development of railroads, overgrazing, settlers, what was once known as the “open range” was no more.

The Rare Breed

On Feb 2, 1966, The Rare Breed premiered in Fort Worth at Palace Theater, 117 E. 7th Street, the first of four pre-release showings of the film. The premier coincided with what was then called Fort Worth Fat Stock Show. An archive of the premier features Maureen O’Hara and James Stewart walking the red carpet to Fort Worth fanfare.

1968 photo courtesy of Larry Brown

1968 photo courtesy of Larry Brown

The film is directed by Andrew McLaglen, who is known for films like McClintock!, Shenandoah, Bandolero, just to name a few of his 31 feature films. In addition to film, Mr. McLaglen directed such television shows as Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, and Rawhide.

Buried in the credit of The Rare Breed is a name some movie fans might recognize. The music for The Rare Breed was scored by Johnny Williams, now known as John Williams, the composer of many film scores, including Jaws, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones.Hereford_bull_large

The Rare Breed is about the introduction of Hereford cattle to the American West. The Hereford breed – originally from Herefordshire, England – has been called “the great improver.” Texas cattle were tough, which was great for the rough terrain, but not so great for the meat. By crossbreeding with Herefords, folks hoped to improve the quality of Texas beef.

Charles M. Russell, When Cowboys Get in Trouble (The Mad Cow), 1899, Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches

Charles M. Russell, When Cowboys Get in Trouble (The Mad Cow), 1899, Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches

Interestingly, Herefords were first introduced to the US in 1817 by Henry Clay, the Kentucky statesman and orator. Unfortunately, Mr. Clay did not bring over enough cattle and bulls, so his Herefords were eventually bred out. Decades later, a number of important ranchers, including Charles Goodnight, brought Herefords to Texas and successfully began crossbreeding.

The Cowboy Chronicles

Trail drives were a big but short-lived venture. After the Civil War, there was a brief period in which millions of cattle were driven from Texas to northern markets, traveling over the vast open range. Historians estimate that cowboys drove 6-9 million head of cattle from the Lone Star state to Kansas between 1867-1886. With the introduction of barbed wire, the expansion of railroads, and the development of meat packing plants near ranching areas, epic cattle drives like the one documented in the story Lonesome Dove were no longer necessary.

Rarely do we have the opportunity to hear firsthand from someone who lived through this defining era of the American cowboy. In 2001, a journal written by Jack Bailey was discovered in a private home in Oklahoma City. The journal was quickly shared with the staff at Donald C. and Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center at National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, who later transcribed the text for publication. Bailey Journey

Jack Bailey’s journal is a day-by-day account of life on a cattle drive as he traveled from North Texas to Kansas to deliver a herd of cattle to market in the fall of 1868. He encounters physical hardships, injuries and malaise, as well as the everyday tedium of routine. Bailey even questions his decision to join the drive in the first place! Typically, most cowboys on a trail drive were in their twenties. Jack Bailey was 37 when he chronicled his 3-month odyssey.pg46 & 47Bailey Quote