Phil Epp (b. 1946), “Red Moon
Phil Epp (b. 1946), “Red Moon,” 2018, acrylic on board, 43.25 x 43.25 in., Collection of of Craig Macnab, Image courtesy of the artist

Spotlighting the founding fathers of Western art alongside artists who have safeguarded the traditional style of this uniquely American art form, “The Sons of Charlie Russell: Cowboy Artists of America” premiers at the Briscoe Western Art Museum through September 5, 2022.

Cowboy Artists of America
June 65 meeting of the CAA
Image courtesy of Sedona Heritage Museum, Sedona, AZ

More from the Briscoe:

This exhibition traces the successive artwork of the Cowboy Artists of America, an organization formed to promote the West and cowboy life in art, from its founders, and those who inspired them, to today’s contemporary members.

Western art has long defined the American West for audiences around the world—illustrating the lives, landscape, and wildlife that make the West what it is. Artists Charles M. Russell, Frederic Remington, Edward Borein, W.R. Leigh, and Frank Tenney Johnson helped codify the look and style of traditional Western art that inspired Cowboy Artists of America (CAA). Since its founding, the CAA has been committed to authentically preserving and perpetuating the culture of Western life in fine art while maintaining high standards of quality, an objective that continues to be met today.

Painting of the moon - Phil Epp (b. 1946), “Red Moon"
Phil Epp (b. 1946), “Red Moon,” 2018, acrylic on board, 43.25 x 43.25 in., Collection of of Craig Macnab, Image courtesy of the artist
Western art - cowboy artists
Charlie Dye (1906-1972), “Rawhide Rhapsody,” 1969, oil on canvas, 24 x 32 in., Collection of The Eddie Basha Collection

Featuring works typically only seen in private collections and never before exhibited together, the exhibition includes 70 works of art encompassing paintings, sculpture and works on paper. Forty artists are featured, with works dating from 1890 to the present day. Viewed through this long historical lens, the exhibition defines a core set of criteria for what traditional Western art is, solidifying the strength and vibrancy of the genre.

“Since its founding, the Cowboy Artists of America has influenced the field of Western art more than any other artist collective in the world,” said Michael Duchemin, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Briscoe Western Art Museum. “CAA artists work to convey the importance of hard work, independence, ruggedness, conservation of the rural landscapes, and neighborliness. Through their art, these ‘Sons of Charlie Russell’ have kept alive the ongoing national fascination and nostalgia for the mythic American West.”

Curated by Emily Wilson, the Curator of Art for the Briscoe, “The Sons of Charlie Russell” features historical works by Remington, Borein, Russell, Leigh, and Johnson along with works by members of the Cowboy Artists of America. The exhibition includes works from 17 lenders including the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Booth Western Art Museum, the Eddie Basha Collection, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Sid Richardson Museum, as well as private lenders from Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming, making the exhibition the first, and only time these works will be viewed together. Nine of the featured works are sourced from the Briscoe’s permanent collection.

Western art - cowboy artists
Grant Redden (b. 1960), “Chance of Rain,” 2019, oil on canvas, 29 x 31 in., Collection of Billy and Ann Mitchell Collection, Image courtesy of the artist

Accuracy and detail in portraying figures, landscape, and artifacts are an important means of communicating the authentic West. Many of the CAA artists collect artifacts, consult historic sources, and maintain a working knowledge of ranching, rodeo, and cowboying in order to improve their portrayal of the historical and contemporary West,” explained Emily Wilson, Curator of Art at the Briscoe. “Altogether, each of the artworks was chosen as an exemplary piece from the artist’s body of work that captured the spirit of the West as only they could – portraying the pathos, grit, grandeur and comradery that knit together the past and the present of a uniquely American experience.”

“The Sons of Charlie Russell: Cowboy Artists of America” is supported in part by Mr. and Mrs. Marrs McLean Bowman, Jan McCaleb Elliott, the Klesse Foundation, Jessica Elliott Middleton, and Debbie and John T. Montford. Learn more about the exhibition of western art here.

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