Home / Arts & Entertainment / ‘Cowboys & Vaqueros: Legends of the American West’ at The Museum at California Center for the Arts, Escondido

‘Cowboys & Vaqueros: Legends of the American West’ at The Museum at California Center for the Arts, Escondido

Saturday, January 14 – Sunday, February 26, 2017
The Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido
340 N. Escondido Blvd.
Escondido, CA 92025

Escondido CA— The Museum at California Center for the Arts, Escondido (the Center) proudly presents, Cowboys & Vaqueros: Legends of the American West, a journey through this region’s culture honoring the complex history, imagery, and lore of the American cowboy from Saturday, January 14 – Sunday, February 26, 2017. The museum exhibition includes grand paintings of nostalgic vistas of the American West, artistic interpretations of ranch life old and new, and tools of the trade including ornately decorated saddles, bits, spurs, reatas, bridles, and more. Interviews and hi-res images are available upon request.

Mehl Lawson, accomplished sculptor, painter, braider, rider, one of the featured artists, and curator notes, “The cowboy and the American West have always had a special meaning for me. I have had a lifelong interest in horses and ranching in America. I am very excited about bringing this show to the museum. These pieces bring to life the beauty and reality of life in the West. These artists and craftsmen capture the essence of the West, past and present.”

Cowboys & Vaqueros: Legends of the American West pays special attention to the Escondido region, its indigenous people and beginnings as a city. The exhibition chronicles the movement and evolution of equestrian culture beginning with the arrival of the Spanish, who brought the first horses and cows, thus establishing the first ranches, to this hemisphere. Their way of life was adopted and translated by Native Americans, Anglo settlers, and African Americans looking for literal and metaphorical freedom. The archetypal cowboy that many of us think of today is an amalgamation of many cultures, techniques, and languages comingling for nearly five centuries. In this exhibition, the Center humbly seeks to better understand this immortalized, larger than life, legend.

The works that tell this multifaceted and ever-changing campfire tale include contemporary and historic paintings of the Western frontier, bronze and stone sculptures, a series of black and white photographs depicting contemporary life as a cattle rancher, and trappings both functional and decorative. The artists featured in this exhibition are: Roy Anderson, Bill Anton, Carrie Ballantyne, James Bama, Joe Beeler, Tom Browning, Alson Skinner Clark, Tim Cox, Jay Dusard, Charlie Dye, Robert Freeman, Bruce Greene, Martin Grelle, Logan Maxwell Hegege, Allan Houser, Orland Joe, Frank Tenney Johnson, Mehl Lawson, Robert Lougheed, Tom Lovell, Frank McCarthy, John Moyers, Gary Niblett, Jim Norton, Edgar Payne, Kyle Polzin, Bob Pummill, James Reynolds, Ron Riddick, Kenneth Riley, Tom Ryan, Johnathan Saenz, Bill Sharer, Ray Swanson, Donald Teague, Emerson Terry, Howard Turpning, Morgan Weistling, and Olaf Wieghorst.

Artist Emerson Terry’s paintings recount the historic contributions of African Americans to cowboy culture and the West at large. Terry, a 91-year-old resident of Pasadena, decided to create these tributes after his daughter was told by an elementary school teacher that black cowboys didn’t exist. His pieces depict the infamous gun toting “Stagecoach Mary” Fields, a freed slave who became the second woman in the country to manage a postal route in the late 19th Century. Also on display is a portrait of Bill Pickett, the inventor of bulldogging — a rough and tumble method of steer wrangling — for whom many rodeos are still named.

Expanding upon the Center’s traditional Second Saturday art activities, Western Day will take place on Saturday, February 11, 2017 from 2:00pm – 5:00pm and it will be a rip-roarin’ good time for the whole family with Western-themed art activities! Western Day will include a demonstration by Vaquero and Charro clubs, the Bandy Blacksmith Guild, Escondido History Center, and the African-American Museum of San Diego.

An exclusive media and members-only Opening Reception will be held at The Museum on Friday, January 13, 2017 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm — the public is invited to celebrate the opening reception beginning at 7:30pm on Friday, January 13 for a fee of $10. Please join the Center for a special preview of Cowboys & Vaqueros: Legends of the American West. For all media interested in attending the reception, please RSVP directly to Jesse P. Cutler by Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at jesse@jpcutlermedia.com

Mehl Lawson will lead a curator’s talk on Saturday, January 28 from 1:00pm – 2:30pm to discuss his journey as an artist and his vision for this grand exhibition. Lawson is a member of the Cowboy Artists of America and the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association.

Join us for some highfalutin’ festivities with “Happy Trails,” a Closing Event and Fundraiser on Saturday, February 25 from 4:00pm – 7:00pm. The event will feature Cowboy Balladeer Tom Hiatt and his three-piece band singing originals and classics under the stars. Enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and a last look at this blue-ribbon exhibition before it moseys on down the road. All proceeds benefit Museum programs. $55 general admission, $45 members.

The student exhibition which will accompany Cowboys & Vaqueros: Legends of the American West features work from Bear Valley Middle School, Escondido High School, Rincon Middle School, San Pasqual High School, and Valley Center High School.


About California Center for the Arts, Escondido

With a mission of bringing people together to discover, create and celebrate both the visual and performing arts, California Center for the Arts, Escondido is the cultural center of North San Diego County.

The Center’s unique campus includes a 1,523-seat concert hall, a 404-seat theater, a contemporary art museum, art and dance studios, and a full-service conference center with meeting and banquet facilities. The Center also runs an extensive education program and produces free community events. San Diego Magazine named the Center the “Best Limited Engagement” in North County. The Center was named in the Top Five for U-T San Diego’s Readers Poll for “Best Live Music Venue” and the Top Five for “Best Place to Get Married.” In 2016, the Center was named “Organization of the Year” by the Escondido Chamber of Commerce.

The Center is located at 340 N. Escondido Blvd. in Escondido. The Ticket Office can be reached at (800) 988-4253. Tickets can also be purchased online. To learn more, including performance dates, times and ticket information, visit artcenter.org.