For Love of Russell

This month we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of “For Love of Russell,” a one-woman monologue of the life of cowboy artist Charles Russell as told by his wife and business manager, Nancy Cooper Russell. Visitors have an opportunity to experience the performance every Second Saturday of the month.Cowgirl Visit

The role of Nancy Cooper Russell is performed by one of our museum docents, Roberta Atkins. Roberta has been with the museum since the institution first embarked on a docent program in 1999. In 2005, when the museum closed for renovations, Roberta began to conceive and write what became the “For Love of Russell” monologue based on research about Nancy and her relationship with Charles Russell. After the museum re-opened in November 2006, Roberta performed for a museum audience for the first time.

In 2012, Roberta reached her 100th performance, a feat that did not go unnoticed. To celebrate this special milestone, Sid Richardson Foundation president, Pete Geren, surprised Roberta by dressing up as Charles Russell. Nancy and Charlie were reunited at last!Charles & Nancy 2012

The Sid Richardson Museum is blessed to have such a gifted group of docents.  Thank you, Roberta, for sharing your time and talents with our visitors! Happy 10th Anniversary, Nancy Cooper Russell!Roberta1

 

Whoa, We’re Halfway There

This fall, the Sid Richardson Museum embarked on a new class of docents. Having started our extensive docent training in September, I’m happy to report that we’re halfway through our course! What have we learned so far?

DocentIntro

Our new docent class leading mini tours on the first day of training!

Eleven future docents were introduced to the museum collection & staff, and jumped right in to their new role by sharing what they learned about Sid Richardson through various pieces in the museum collection.

The docent class had the great fortunate to learn about the artwork and time period represented in our collection through various prestigious visiting speakers. Dr. Brian Dippie, one of the preeminent scholars on Charles Russell and author of the Sid Richardson Museum collection book, traveled across the border to speak with us all the way from Canada. Likewise, Peter Hassrick, editor of the recently published Frederic Remington: A Catalogue Raisonné II, sojourned from his post as Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming to speak with our docents about the iconic Western artist. Most recently, we learned more about the era of transformation during the late 19th and early 20th centuries from Dr. Mark Thistlethwaite, the Kay and Velma Kimbell Chair of Art History at Texas Christian University, who helped us situate Remington & Russell within the broader context of American art history.

 

Dr. Brian Dippie discussing Charles Russell with our new docent class.

Dr. Brian Dippie discussing Charles Russell with our new docent class.

In addition to scholarship, we’ve been learning all different tools of the trade like conversational interpretation, or how to talk with visitors about the artworks on display. We also had a fun “speed dating” class in which our docents had a chance to do each of the studio activities that are offered to our student visitor during their school tours at the Sid. We have some talented artists in our midst!

Kenny Haussenteuffel guiding our docents on best practices for working with ELL students.

Kenny Haussenteuffel guiding our docents on best practices for working with ELL students.

This week, we stepped into the shoes of English Language Learners, as Kenny Hassenteuffel, a former dual language school teacher, led a discussion of artworks from our collection in Spanish. Through this exercise, Mr. Hassenteuffel was able to demonstrate ways in which we can help create meaningful museum experiences for our ELL visitors. And we learned a little Spanish along the way!

Although we’ve covered quite a lot of material, we still have 7 more weeks of training to go. Our docents will learn things like cultural awareness in art museums, child development, tour themes, and how to craft a tour. Each new docent will end their training with a practice tour presentation. We can’t wait to let them shine!

The Ocean of Sunrise

Fall is just around the corner and with it comes a new season of Tea & Talk. This program is geared towards adults who are interested in slowing down their art viewing process and digging a little deeper into our collection (and for those who enjoy a good cup of a tea afterwards!). For our first Tea & Talk of the 2016-2017 season we viewed and discussed a portrait painted by Charles Francis Browne, Nai-U-Chi: Chief of the Bow, Zuni 1895.

Tea & Talk, September 2016, Sid Richardson Museum

Tea & Talk, September 2016, Sid Richardson Museum

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

As noted in the title, Nai-U-Chi was part of the Zuni, which are a federally recognized American Indian tribe and one of the Pueblo peoples. Today, most Zuni live in Western New Mexico. Traditionally, the Zuni were an agricultural community.

Studio portrait of a delegation of five Zunis and a Hopi brought to Washington by Frank Hamilton Cushing. Standing, left to right: Naiyutchi (Nai-uchi); Nanahe (Na-na-he), a Hopi adopted by the Zuni; Kiasiwa (Ki-a-si). Seated, left to right: Laiyuahtsailunkya (Lai-yu-ah-tsai-lun-kya); Governor Laiyuaitsailus (Hai-ya-ah-tsai-hi or Pedro Pino); Governor Pah-lo-wah-ti-wa (Patricio Pino). Men are wearing traditional clothing, including leather leggings, beaded necklaces, concha belts, and cloth headbands. 1882. Photo by John K. Hillers. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution (P03402)

Studio portrait of a delegation of five Zunis and a Hopi brought to Washington by Frank Hamilton Cushing. Standing, left to right: Naiyutchi (Nai-uchi); Nanahe (Na-na-he), a Hopi adopted by the Zuni; Kiasiwa (Ki-a-si). Seated, left to right: Laiyuahtsailunkya (Lai-yu-ah-tsai-lun-kya); Governor Laiyuaitsailus (Hai-ya-ah-tsai-hi or Pedro Pino); Governor Pah-lo-wah-ti-wa (Patricio Pino). Men are wearing traditional clothing, including leather leggings, beaded necklaces, concha belts, and cloth headbands. 1882. Photo by John K. Hillers. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution (P03402)

Nai-U-Chi was a member of the Bow Priesthood, a group that exerted considerable power within Zuni life. During Tea & Talk, many participants commented on the various details they saw in the portrait: the red cloth headband, what appears to be a linen-like top, and a sash decorated with unidentified objects. What are those gray objects adorning the sash? Are they arrowheads? After the program, I consulted some of our knowledgeable museum staff and discovered that the artifacts on Nai-U-Chi’s clothing were shark teeth!

Charles Francis Browne | Nai-U-Chi: Chief Of The Bow, Zuni 1895 | detail

Charles Francis Browne | Nai-U-Chi: Chief Of The Bow, Zuni 1895 | detail

How did a man living in New Mexico in the late 19th century acquire shark teeth? Unfortunately, I have not been able to confirm in print where or how Nai-U-Chi came to possess these items. One must consider a likely possibility that by the time of this portrait, 1895, the Zuni, as with many other native groups, were regularly trading with Americans and other travelers. Another possibility involves a pilgrimage to the Atlantic Ocean.

Most of what we know about Nai-U-Chi is from records of Frank Hamilton Cushing, a pioneering anthropologist associated with the Smithsonian Institution who lived with the Zuni from 1879-1884. Mr. Cushing learned that for many years it had been a dream of some of the Zuni chiefs to visit the East, a land of fable to see “the Ocean of Sunrise.” Living in the dry lands of New Mexico, the Zuni believed their prayers brought clouds from the ocean in the east, clouds that would give them rain.

Many other nearby tribes had had representatives visit Washington, D.C. – the Apaches, the Navajos, but not the Zuni. So Cushing guided a group of Zuni men East, as accounted in an article published in an 1882 issue of The Century Magazine. Eventually, the group made it to their final destination in Boston, selected so as to be as far east as possible.

Upon arriving at the ocean, Nai-U-Chi led the party in a ceremony, scattering sacred meal, which was composed of corn meal and finely ground precious seashells, over the waves. Nai-U-Chi concluded the ceremony with a prayer in which “consideration was asked for the children of the Zunis, of the Americans, and of all men, of the beasts and birds of the world, and of even the creeping and most vile beings of earth, and the most insignificant.”

Portrait of Nai-Uchi (Elder Brother of the Bow Priest) in Native Dress with Squash Blossom Necklace and Ornaments 1879. Photographed by John K. Hillers. National Anthropological Archives. NAA INV 06370200 OPPS NEG 02233 A.

Portrait of Nai-Uchi (Elder Brother of the Bow Priest) in Native Dress with Squash Blossom Necklace and Ornaments 1879. Photographed by John K. Hillers. National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution. NAA INV 06370200 OPPS NEG 02233 A.

During Tea & Talk, I asked the group what they might infer about the sitter or how they would describe the sitter in Charles Browne’s portrait of Nai-U-Chi. Someone said they imagined him to be an important man. Another participant admitted to feeling respect for the man. In one of the few written descriptions I have found of Nai-U-Chi, he was described as having “a genial, contemplative look, a kindly placidity of countenance, and he was full of poetry, telling folk lore stories charmingly.” I like to imagine what stories Nai-U-Chi could have told us had we had the chance to sit with him longer.

Tea & Talk, September 2016, Sid Richardson Museum

Tea & Talk, September 2016, Sid Richardson Museum

Tea & Talk is a free monthly program, offered the 1st Wednesday of every month at noon from September-May. I hope to see you next time!

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.

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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

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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