Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Big Sky and Great Art

Big Sky viewed from Bethel Road, near Weatherford, Oklahoma.

Tucumcari, NM, evening of 7/9/2014:  I catch my breath, my heart melts and my eyes tear every time I see it.  Big Sky..immense sky with a  wraparound horizon whose edge is so sharp you know you could walk right off it.  

  Lord, what beauty.  

  The picture above was taken from a bridge spanning Interstate 40 near astronaut Tom Stafford's hometown, Weatherford, OK.  You have to get west of Oklahoma City to see this; this is the old west. it stretches for miles and miles, gradually melding to sagebrush and mesas.   The history carries through farming settlements to cattle ranches to wide spreads of no man's land.  If you keep going, snow-capped mountains appear on the far horizon.  Meanwhile, without you knowing it, the land is tilting upward as you travel, gradually slanting toward the Rockies and peaks that range up to 14-thousand feet.

  This glorious country.  

  It's waiting for you.  

  Come out and see it.


        I cannot pass this place.  This is the grand foyer of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.  The statue is End Of The Trail; it's the first thing you see when you come through the front door.  In my opinion, the Smithsonian has never done a better museum.

       The Cowboy is done with loving respect for the people who found a place in the west and made a work of it.  You can see all of it here..presented in a scholarly, but entertaining way.  You could spend weeks here absorbing it all.

       What you might not expect are the extensive art galleries.  If all you know about Western Art is Frederic Remington and Charlie Russell, a visit here would open a whole new world..both classic and modern.  The museum hosts the Prix de West every year and, to my delight, the show was still up when I arrived.  Such gorgeous tall picture of a beautiful Native American woman caught my eye..among many others.  People working in the genre go from landscape to portraiture.  The media run from oils through sculpture.  I regret that no photography was allowed.  

If I could have used my cameras, these pages
would be a feast.    

       Prix de West is an annual event at the museum..well attended and well appreciated. I wish I could bring home something, but that's a check I'm not prepared to write.

      In the picture shown here..the Cougar who anchors one end of the main hall seems to be sneaking a peek into one of the gallery rooms.  The sculpture in the center of the gallery is of a Native American woman on horseback.  It's life-size.

      This year's grand prize went to a large painting of a young Indian woman wrapped in a traditional blanket, looking toward the horizon.  It is pensively lovely and would take a very large wall to do it justice.  I commend it to you.


      But if you cannot photograph the Prix de West, there are other galleries full of treasure.

      This regal Chieftain's headdress is still one of my favorites:

       It is every bit as stunning from the rear:

    Such great art.


    As I write this, I'm settled for the night in Tucumcari, NM..ready for the last couple hundred miles to Santa Fe tomorrow.  Getting here from Tulsa, Oklahoma today took about eight hours, not counting the brief time I spent at the museum.  The ride was not boring..

         That's a full-fledged Texas Toad Strangler or Duck Drownder coming there. Out where the sky's so big and the horizon so broad, you can see them marching toward you from a long way off.  I tried to dodge it, but it swept over me in full flood, making it nearly impossible to see the road.  When I did break free, I ran like a rabbit.  Looking into the rear view mirror, I could see everything behind me had disappeared into a dark grey cloud.  Whooo..

       I'll see you again..soon as I've got something new to say.