Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

Thank you, Docents!

Yesterday we celebrated our wonderful group of docents with a holiday luncheon. We are so honored to work with such a talented and caring ensemble of volunteers. These men and women are vital to our art museum. Through their passion and knowledge of art of the American West, the docents help to positively shape visitor’s attitudes about art and museums.docents 7

We’re not the only ones who appreciate our volunteers. At the end of every field trip, we send out a survey to assess student visits and learn how we can better serve future school groups. Here is just some of the feedback we received from anonymous teachers:

“[The docents] were excellent! The ladies were well informed and had all kinds of anecdotal observations that the kids loved. They were very patient and let the students engage with them which was wonderful.”

“Cannot wait to come back. Thank you!!”

“The docents and entire staff were absolutely wonderful! They were very knowledgeable and presented the information appropriately for 4th graders.”docents 6docents 2

“Our experience was completely positive! Every part of the trip was well-organized, and that greatly reduces stress for students (and for teachers). Each of the adults used a calm, confident tone of voice. That’s also a big plus!”

“The atmosphere was very warm and inviting. The docents who led the tour were wonderful as well as knowledgeable.”

“The most kid-friendly museum in all of the Metroplex!”docents 4

“Everyone was so lovely and helpful. I appreciated that there were plenty of adults to handle the kids and to help them.”

“[The docents] were great. Very welcoming and accommodating. Used kid friendly language and seemed enthusiastic.”

“The staff was gracious and very helpful. I could tell that they have worked with students before because of their patience. We had a wonderful experience.”docents 3docents 1

Thank you, docents, for all that you do for the Sid Richardson Art Museum!!!

A Russell Documentary

Recently, the museum received a special visit from Montana PBS, which is currently filming a documentary about Charlie Russell and his time in the American West.  Writer and producer, Paul Zalis, is working with many scholars and institutions on this project, including yours truly. One of the project’s chief scholars is Dr. Brian Dippie who is also the guest curator for our current exhibition, Take Two: George Catlin Revisits the West.

Mr. Zalis and his crew filmed Dr. Dippie and Western art scholar, Dr. Rick Stewart, as they toured our collection. PBS Montana 1PBS Montana 2

Let’s chat with Paul Zalis to learn more about the project.

Why a documentary about Charlie Russell?  

Making a documentary on Charlie Russell was actually an in-the-shower, light bulb, “Ahaa!” moment that my co-producer, Gus Chambers, had. No one has ever done a serious documentary on Russell, which is kind of astounding. Beyond that, Russell is revered in Montana. He is almost our patron saint. But traveling around the States, I realized that the farther I got away from Big Sky country, the less people know who he was. Charlie truly was a great, iconic American, and it’s about time to re-introduce him to the American public.

What drew you to the Sid Richardson Museum?  

Sid Richardson was, along with people like Tom Gilcrease and Amon Carter, one of the great, early collectors of Russell’s work. We had heard what a wonderful, intimate museum the Sid Richardson is, and the thoughtful, concise collection at SRM, just off Sundance Square, is a splendid way for people to see, side-by-side, two of America’s greatest Western artists:  Russell and Remington. Mary Burke and the staff have done a wonderful job making the SRM such an inviting space.

What has been the most interesting fact/story you’ve learned about Charlie Russell from your visits with scholars and museums?

The stories and facts are too numerous and too challenging to categorize, but on a personal level, to me and many others,  Russell was an artistic genius, but perhaps his greatest attribute was his sheer likeability and his loyalty to his friends. The word ‘authentic’ is often too easily tossed around, but Charlie was the real deal.

What would you like audiences to learn from watching your film?

The film is far from finished, but we hope that people will not only learn about an extraordinary artist and man who lived and bore witness to a passing era in American history, but through his art work and influence in the early Hollywood film industry, he was ultimately a man who helped shape our image of ourselves as Westerners and Americans.

When/how can audiences outside of Montana view your film?

There will be two films:  A 3-part, 3-hr. mini-series to premiere in Montana the Fall of 2015, and soon thereafter, a one-hour film that will be distributed nationally, and made available to all public television stations, either through PBS or American Public Television.

Meet & Greet: Leslie

Today’s post concludes our summer blog series, Meet & Greet. We’ve enjoyed sharing our staff with you and hope you’ve learned a little more about the Sid Richardson Museum. For our final introduction, let me tell you a little bit about myself, Leslie Thompson, Adult Audiences Manager.Leslie Collage

Describe your job.

I work within the education department, primarily with our Adult Programs. I design and implement dynamic programs for adults to provide engaging experiences aimed at enhancing visitors’ relationships with the artwork. In addition, I organize continuing education for our docents and manage special events hosted at the museum.

What does any average day entail?

Every day is different, but usually I am planning or preparing for an upcoming program, which often involves conducting research about a certain topic related to our collection, gathering together all necessary materials, and coordinating with staff. And I’m always looking for a fun fact or behind-the-scenes detail to reveal to our audiences through social media.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is having the opportunity to not only learn about a variety of subjects, but to be able to share this wealth of knowledge with the public and engage with fellow art enthusiasts.  I’m also fortunate to work with such an amazing staff who are supportive and open to new ideas.

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

As I read more about the artists represented in our collection, I’m continuously amazed at how adventurous these men were, especially during a period when transportation was not the easiest. They traveled everywhere! As a teenager, Russell moved from the established city of St. Louis to the uncharted Montana Territory. Remington traveled from New York to Cuba, and William Robertson Leigh journeyed to Africa – twice! Several of them toured Europe, as was the custom of artists at the turn of the century – both Leigh and Charles Schreyvogel studied in Munich and Edwin Willard Deming in Paris. And of course, each of these men traveled to the American West, as best captured in their artwork.

Favorite work in the collection? Why?

I love watercolors, which is why I’m naturally drawn to Russell’s The Scout. Russell thought he was a better watercolorist than a painter of oils, which is probably why a third of his artistic output was in watercolors. Watercolor is a difficult medium, so I admire anyone who can produce a good watercolor painting. Because Russell was self-taught, he practiced several techniques that most trained watercolorists wouldn’t do. For example, Russell layered the watercolors to create a thicker buildup of paint, as if they were oil paints. But above all else, I like the simplicity and elegance of this painting.

Charles M. Russell | The Scout | 1907 | Watercolor, pencil & gouache on paper | 16 3/4 x 11 5/8 inches

Charles M. Russell | The Scout | 1907 | Watercolor, pencil & gouache on paper | 16 3/4 x 11 5/8 inches

Meet & Greet: Debi

Have you enjoyed getting better acquainted with our staff this summer? Our Meet & Greet series is nearing the end. But first, let’s catch up with Debi Carl, Visitor Services and Store Liaison.IMG_4199

Describe your job.

I am usually the first person visitors meet when they enter the Museum.  I greet visitors, distribute gallery guides, answer questions pertaining to the Museum or Mr. Richardson and can give directions to almost anything in Fort Worth/Tarrant County. I also assist store staff, if needed.

What does any average day entail?

My daily duties will vary.  Most of the time I am in my place at the entrance to the gallery.  Occasionally I will work upstairs answering the phone.  I make sure the front desk is fully stocked with gallery guides, maps, etc. and that the brochure rack is full.  I order brochures from other Museums as needed.  I am always available to assist any other staff member with any project they may have.

What’s the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is getting to meet and visit with people from all over the world who come into the Museum!  I am capable of having a heavy Texas drawl on occasion.  When we have international visitors I tend to exaggerate that drawl to make them smile.  I almost always wish visitors “Happy Trails” when they leave the Museum. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard them singing that song as the door closes behind them.

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

The fact I enjoy the most concerns Mr. Sid and Amon Carter.  They both used the same art dealer from New York, Bert Newhouse, to help them acquire their artwork.  Mr. Newhouse would come to town to sell paintings and whichever man he met first got the sales pitch for the art piece.  Mr. Newhouse would then make an appointment with the other man and do the same sales pitch.   Mr. Sid & Mr. Carter got together over dinner shortly after these meetings and decided among themselves which one would purchase the artwork.

Favorite work in the collection? Why?

My favorites have changed over time.  When I first started working in the Museum I was quite drawn to Charles Russell.  Over the years I now appreciate the work of BOTH of the primary artists in our collection – Charles Russell AND Frederic Remington. However, my favorite painting at this time is Bears in the Path by William Robinson Leigh.  I love the expression on the hunter’s face as he rounds the bend to find a mama bear and her two cubs.  The horse’s expression is great too…both of his ears are straight up!  The question begs to be asked: which one will back up?  The hunter or the bears?

William R. Leigh | Bears in the Path (Surprise) | 1904 | Oil on canvas | 21 1/8 x 33 1/8 inches

William R. Leigh | Bears in the Path (Surprise) | 1904 | Oil on canvas | 21 1/8 x 33 1/8 inches

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

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

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

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

Dutch Branch Ranch

I recently made a trip out to Dutch Branch Ranch, located southwest of Fort Worth. Sid Richardson bought the ranch in 1946. Previously, Dutch Branch Ranch was owned by Elliot Roosevelt, son of Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt. During Elliot’s tenure, President Roosevelt visited his son out on the Texas homestead on multiple occasions.

Carlton Penn, the ranch foreman while the Roosevelt’s occupied the ranch, stayed on as foreman when Mr. Richardson took over operation in the 1940s. Mr. Richardson never lived on the property, but rather it was one of his local bases for his ranching business.

The ranch originally totaled around 3,000 acres of land. Today, half of the estate sits under what is now Benbrook Lake. Still in operation, Dutch Branch Ranch is home to wide open fields, big blue skies, and inquisitive (but friendly) horses.DutchBranchRanch Collage

Meet & Greet: Kat

Over the course of this summer, we will be featuring a new blog series: Meet & Greet. These posts are an opportunity for our readers to get to know members of our staff here at the Sid Richardson Museum. For the first post in our series, I’d like to introduce you to Katherine Yount, Director of School and Family Programs.IMG_2330

Describe your job.

I work with our education department to plan and implement school tours as well as children and family programs. These programs include both gallery experiences and studio art making. I also manage our 15 wonderful docents who guide all of our tours.

What does an average day entail?

An average day begins with a school tour. The docents work with students in the gallery while my co-worker, Betsy Thomas, and I work with students in our studio classroom. The studio component of a tour includes an art making experience, such as painting, which relates to the group’s tour theme. My afternoons are spent planning future programs, managing our tour schedule and coordinating with our docents.

What’s the best part of your job?

I used to teach elementary art, during which time I became interested in teaching students not with reproductions of art, but with authentic objects. After going back to school, I found my dream job here at the Sid where I get to share my love for art and art making with young people. The best part of my job is when a student is leaving the studio and says “This was the best day ever!” because I know our team left a positive impression with that child about the museum experience, which will last a lifetime. One of our goals is for visitors, especially first time visitors, to leave with the impression that the art museum is a place for everyone, including them!

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

Probably that Charles Russell worked as a real cowboy and the way that influenced his work compared to Frederic Remington.

Favorite work in the collection? Why?

I fell in love with Remington’s The Dry Camp the first time I ever walked into the gallery. I was at a hard place in my life at the time, and I immediately related to this unknown man and the uncertainty of his future. Remington always leaves something outside the frame that we cannot see, letting us, the viewer, finish the story. That intimate interaction between artist and visitor resonated with me, and I think it does with all our visitors.

Frederic Remington, The Dry Camp, 1907, Oil on canvas, 27 3/8 x 40 inches

Frederic Remington, The Dry Camp, 1907, Oil on canvas, 27 3/8 x 40 inches