May 15 - Sept. 11, 2014

Barbara Van Cleve Photography Exhibit Spotlights Resilience of Ranch Women
“Hard Twist” opens May 15 at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame  

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (April 28, 2014) – National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring women of the American West who have displayed extraordinary courage in their trailblazing efforts – is pleased to welcome back a temporary exhibit by 1995 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree Barbara Van Cleve entitled “Hard Twist: Western Ranch Women.” The exhibit of over 60 stunning black and white photographs depicting the tough and resilient side of ranch women of the American West will be available for public viewing May 15 in the Museum’s temporary exhibit hall.

The exhibit features photos of 29 ranch women, including five National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Honorees - Jan Youren, Ruby Gobble, Gretchen Sammis, Bobby Brooks Kramer, and Linda Mitchell Davis. Visitors will be able to enjoy a guided tour of the exhibit using mobile devices, and hear the remarkable stories behind several of the photographs directly from Van Cleve.

Van Cleve’s mother inspired the exhibit and indentified the lack of published photographs of women ranchers. Van Cleve spent much of 1986-1994 traveling the Rocky Mountain West on horseback gathering images and interviews from women of the West in their natural elements – out on the range, ranch, or at rodeos. From her travels, she created the book titled “Hard Twist: Western Ranch Women” in 1995, from which the exhibition was created. The term “Hard Twist” refers to the old Manila hemp lariat rope that is tightly twisted.  Van Cleve recognized that the term can also refer to a small, compact, physically strong person that rarely breaks – much like women of the West.

“We are thrilled to have Barbara Van Cleve’s ‘Hard Twist’ exhibit featured at the Museum,” said Dr. Diana Vela, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Associate Executive Director, Exhibits and Education. “The photographs of ranch women, during ordinary moments in their day, are really quite extraordinary in their ability to capture personal moments in the midst of some rather difficult ranch tasks.”

Van Cleve is nationally known for her photographs of western landscapes, ranchers, cowboys and cattle women. Her heritage is rich with firsthand experience of the cowgirl life. She grew up on her family’s ranch, the Lazy K Bar, founded in 1880 in the Crazy Mountains of Montana. Her first camera was a “Brownie Box,” given to her at age 11 along with a developing kit, and her childhood was spent working and experiencing life on the ranch in the American West and cultivating her inter­est in photography. She taught English Literature and Photography at DePaul University in Chicago, and then became the youngest Dean of Women in the United States. She retired from academia in 1980 to pursue photography full time and had her first major exhibition in the fall of 1985. Her work is in public and private collections in the United States as well as internationally.


Hanskaska: The Shirtwearers - Plains Indian Art of Cathy A. Smith
Oct. 24, 2013 - April 27, 2014

“Hanskaska: The Shirtwearers – Plains Indian Art of Cathy A. Smith” is the first public exhibition of a collection
of the precise recreations of the regalia of 12 historically important Plains Indian leaders. Representing 10 Native
American nations, the collection includes ceremonial headdresses, shirts, leggings, moccasins, weapons and other
accoutrements on loan from the estate of R. Michael Kammerer, Jr.
The exhibition is on loan from the private collection of the estate of R. Michael Kammerer, Jr. The late founder
ofIndependent Television Network (now ITN Networks) had an avid interest in the West and collected Western
and Native American art. Artist and cultural historian Cathy Smith of Santa Fe, N.M., who is the “adopted” daughter
of a traditionalLakota medicine man and Sun Dance leader on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, created
the collection for Kammerer. The work was done by Smith and the artisans under her tutelage. Installed in 1999,
the collection required over four years to execute, but the research and accumulation of understanding and artistic
skill took Smith 25 years.
According to Smith, “Hanskaska” is the Lakota word describing a society of head men or chiefswho had earned
the privilege to wear a sacredly ornamented shirt. Each of the men represented in the collection had this right.
The exhibition opens the same day that Smith will be inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame at its 38th
annual Induction Luncheon in Fort Worth.
“We are proud to be the first public venue for this important historic exhibition of the work of one of our newest
Honorees,” said Patricia Riley, executive director of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. The Cowgirl
preserves the history and highlights the impact of extraordinary Western women from the mid-1800s to the
present: the artists and writers, champions and competitive performers, entertainers, ranchers (stewards of land
and livestock), trailblazers, and pioneers.
Highlights of the Exhibition
The Hanskaska collection of the regalia of 12 Plains Indian leaders consists of the clothing and accoutrements of
each personage as determined from historical photographs, paintings and oral histories. Each of the 60 items was
created in the same way that it was originally made, using the same materials and techniques of production: Big
Horn Sheep, antelope, buffalo, and deer hides tanned with brains, original stock seed and pony beads, naturally
dyed porcupine quills, sinew or linen thread, and original trade items such as wool stroud, brass hawk bells, buttons,
silk ribbon, etc. The only concession to authenticity was the use of hand-painted turkey feathers in place of
eagle, hawk, and owl.
The 10 Native American nations represented in the exhibition are the Blackfeet, Comanche, Crow, Hidatsa, Lakota,
Northern Cheyenne, Southern Cheyenne, Mandan, Nez Perce and Pawnee.Chiefs and other leaders featured are:
• Chief Joseph, the last great chief of the Nez Perce
• Crazy Horse, Mniconjou/Oglala, one of the last four “Shirtwearers” of the Lakota nation
• Kicking Bear, a Mniconjou Lakota warrior and holy man instrumental in bringing the Ghost Dance to
the Sioux
• Little Chief, Council chief of the Southern Cheyenne or Suhtai
• Little Wolf, sweet medicine chief of the Northern Cheyenne and leader of the Bowstring Society;
• Mato Tope (Four Bears), the great chief of the Mandan
• Medicine Crow (Sacred Raven), the last of the legendary Crow chiefs and a visionary medicine man
• Mountain Chief, the Blackfoot’s last hereditary leader
• Periska-Rhupa, (Two Ravens), chief of the Minnetare, leader of the Dog Soldier Society and principal
chief of the Hidatsa, parent tribe of the Crow
• Petalasharo, the last Grand Pawnee head chief to rule in Nebraska
• Quanah Parker, son of Peta Nocona, Quahhadi Comanche chief and white captive Cynthia
• Ann Parker, who became chief of all the Comanches on the reservation and proved to be a forceful
leader bringing his people into the 20th century
• Red Cloud, war chief of the Oglala band of the Lakota.
“The exhibition is significant because the 60 items in the collection are authentic recreations of documented
pieces, the majority of which are no longer in existence or accessible to viewing except in rare historic photographs
or paintings,” said Diana Vela, Ph.D., Associate Executive Director, Exhibits and Education, National
Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
Smith said, “Since the recent repatriation laws discourage the purchase and private ownership of historical
Native American art, reproducing these pieces allows them to be seen and appreciated in a politically and
spiritually correct genre. The educational value of reproduction should not be underestimated: Many of the
techniques used in the construction of this collection are all but lost or practiced by very few. This is a way of
documenting the knowledge, keeping an art form alive, and passing it on to future generations. Possibly more
significantly, the meaning and spiritual significance of the various rare materials, patterns of design, and ceremony
that accompanies it all is being documented and preserved. The work in this collection has not been done in
the last century, at least to this extent.”


Tough By Nature Exhibit
May 9 - September 9, 2013

Portraits Dispel Stereotype of the Cowgirl and Ranch Woman

“Tough by Nature, Portraits of Cowgirls and Ranch Women of the American West” opens Thursday, May 9, and runs through Monday, September 9, 2013, at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, 1720 Gendy Street in the Cultural District.

The exhibition showcases 65 of Lynda Lanker's drawings, paintings, works on paper, and prints, which document a vanishing way of life that affirmed the role of women in the economy and ecology of the American West. Her portraits reveal the ruggedness, beauty, and cultural tradition of ranch life and the resilience, character, and quiet strength of the extraordinary women who gain their sustenance and livelihood from the land.

Influenced by Andrew Wyeth and Thomas Hart Benton, she used a variety of media — pencil and charcoal, oil pastel, egg tempura, plate and stone lithography, engraving, and dry point — to capture the spirit of these women who gain their sustenance and livelihood from the land.

“I didn’t go out there to prove that their lives were so different from those of the women I knew or the cowboys we thought we knew; I started to discover that they were,” Lanker said. “There were at least as many of the female cowhands and ranchers who were doing the same work as the men but they had mainly been portrayed as rodeo queens in tight satin shirts with lots of sequins and fancy boots. I wanted to go deeper and show the true women instead of the stereotype. I hope people come away from the exhibition feeling the ruggedness, the beauty, and the cultural tradition of this life, for this ranch life, long romanticized, is harsh and makes one tough by nature. What these women and their families are doing is admirable. They have made an indelible imprint on the American landscape.”  

“These inspiring portraits of these extraordinary women reveal their strong sense of self-reliance and confidence,” said Pat Riley, executive director of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. “They personify our mission to honor the women whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West.” 

Eight of the women featured in the exhibition are Honorees in the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame: Reba Perry Blakely, Linda Mitchell Davis, Ruby Gobble, Gretchen Sammis, Jonnie Jonckowski, Georgie Sicking, Mollie Taylor Stevenson, Jr. and Jan Youren.

Nine of the 49 women featured in the exhibition are from Texas (Alpine, Boyd, Burkburnett, Fort Worth, Munday, and Seymour), and the others are from Ariz., Calif., Colo., Hawaii, Mont., Nev., N.M., Ore., Utah, Wash., and Wyo. 

Accompanying the exhibition is the 132-page coffee table book of the same name, which tells the stories of these remarkable women in their own words. American novelist, essayist, and screenwriter Larry McMurtry wrote the book's foreword; Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a 2002 Honoree in the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, wrote the introduction; and celebrated poet Maya Angelou wrote the afterword. The book was made possible by The Ford Family Foundation and other generous donors. Published in 2011 by the Oregon State University Press, the book will be available in the Cowgirl museum’s gift shop.

The exhibition was organized by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where it premiered in the fall 2012. It comes to the Cowgirl museum from the Oregon Historical Society, Portland, Ore. Landau Traveling Exhibitions of Los Angeles is coordinating the tour of the exhibition.

Sponsors of the exhibition at the Cowgirl museum are Fifth Avenue Foundation; Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; National Barrel Horse Association; National Cutting Horse Association; and Reata restaurant. 


Off the Wall: Maverick Quilts
January 18 - March 31, 2013

This innovative exhibition from The Quilt Complex is making its debut at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.

Being independent in thought and action is the hallmark of someone we would label a “maverick,” and is a quality shared by many of our Honorees. This new exhibition underscores that very same quality – in quilts.

Paired alongside a traditional quilt pattern, these “maverick” quilts display an unusual twist on the ordinary, a verve and a gritty individuality rarely found in more studied and self-conscious quilts. On display will be 30 quilts spanning 100 years, from 1850 to 1950.

Quilts1Hexagon ...

Repeated six-sided pieces could be organized in various ways; the most popular being an overall design known as "Grandmother's Flower Garden." Some women had other ideas (occasionally pretty wild) of how to put their hexagons together.





A simple, and among the most elementary of all pierced design, Ninepatch can be set "on the square," "on point" so it looks like a diamond, or - as one ingenious woman did it - continuous and "swirling all about."




The Cowgirl Who Became a Justice: Sandra Day O’Connor: A 30th Anniversary Celebration,
October 27, 2011-March 25, 2012

“Before I rode occasionally on the round-up, it had been an all-male domain. Changing it to accommodate a female was probably my first initiation into joining an all-men’s club, something I did more than once in my life.” 

    –O’Connor in Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest.

Prior to Sandra Day O’Connor, no other female in the United States had been given as heavy and as public a yoke to carry in representing women, the West and in turn the best interests of the nation.

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame proudly celebrates 2002 Hall of Fame Honoree Sandra Day O’Connor, on the 30th anniversary of her appointment to the United States Supreme Court.  Come see this cowgirl’s connections between life on the ranch . . . and life on the bench.

No Glitz, No Glory
May 19-September 25, 2011

The West, and particularly Texas, thrives on individualism. And, by extension the way we dress ourselves has become a calling card for the west. Rhinestone chaps? Exaggerated fringe? Metallic boots? 12 foot trains and 40 pound dresses? Why, yes!

Come see a whole other Wild West May 19 as the National Cowgirl Museum pulls out some dazzling clothing and tack from our vault!

Photograph courtesy of Rhonda Hole

Apron Chronicles: A Patchwork of American Recollections,
January 7-April 3, 2011

Apron Chronicles: A Patchwork of American Recollections is America’s most nostalgic, thought provoking and generational friendly traveling exhibition. The exhibit is the American experience as seen and read through 46 photographs, text in story form and 155 vintage aprons.

Curator EllynAnne Geisel has utilized the apron as a symbol immediately recognized by everyone to create an exhibit that is ultimately more about life than fabric.

The diverse storytellers include a 111-year-old mother and her only child, a Holocaust survivor, a biology professor from Mali, Africa, and a preteen and her grandmother. Their stories explore the people behind the aprons and give life to the fabric and the exhibit.

Author and apron curator EllynAnne is the voice behind the exhibit. Award-winning photographer Kristina Loggia has preserved the storytellers’ images in an environmental style that complements the unadorned honesty of their recollections.

Like the oral histories, the portraits’ strength is their directness and lack of pretension.

Apron Chronicles national recognition includes Time magazine, The New York Times, CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s Weekend Edition.

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame was recently awarded a mini-grant of $1,500 from the Humanities Texas to support the forthcoming exhibit “The Apron Chronicles” and related programming

Cowgirl Christmas Tree Celebration,
December 10-26, 2010 

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame will have a Christmas Tree exhibit from December 10 to December 31. These trees are thematic and reflect the five categories of Honorees in the Hall of Fame: artists and writers, champions and competitive performers, entertainers, ranchers (stewards of the land and livestock) and trailblazers and pioneers. Additionally – local schools are also decorating trees with patriotic, holiday, and western themes. There will be interactive crafts for children to make their own ornaments and there will be a reading corner with holiday books. The fee is the regular museum admittance fee.

Sixth Annual Heart of the West Art Exhibition and Sale,
October 1-December 1, 2010

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame will host its sixth annual Heart of the West Art Exhibition and Sale October 1-December 1, 2010.

Established in 2004 to honor women who embody the Western spirit and express their passion for the American West through art, the Heart of the West Art Exhibition and Sale is the premiere all-female Western art show and sale in the country, and features themes of the West as captured through bronze, sculpture, oil, watercolor, pencil and other fine art media. The event will feature 49 outstanding artists including 2003 Hall of Fame Honoree, Glenna Goodacre, 2007 Hall of Fame Honoree, Donna Howell-Sickles, and 2009 Hall of Fame Honoree, Deborah Copenhaver Fellows.  New artists for 2010 include Shelley Muzylowski Allen, Mary Buchholz, Jenny Forge-Schmalstieg, Moni Heil, Barbara Ivey, Jan Mapes and Deborah Oropallo.

“Through this exhibition, we want to recognize the contributions of contemporary women in the arts; women who interpret the American West through a variety of viewpoints, styles and media,” said Pat Riley, executive director of the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame. “These women have contributed to the fabric of American culture and their insights and perspectives bring new life to the art of the West.”

Georgia O’Keeffe and the Far Away: Nature and Image,
February 12- September 6, 2010

Through our partnership with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, NM, we are proud to present a groundbreaking exhibition featuring one of the most famous artists of the 20th century: 1991 Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree Georgia O’Keeffe.

O’Keeffe’s connection to the American West and her reputation at the forefront of American modernism are essential to the premise of this exhibition and pertinent to her induction into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. She identified herself with the ideals of the West- rugged individuality, fierce courage and a quest for the untamed. Nowhere is this more evident than through her arduous camping trips to paint the landscape of northern New Mexico, a place she romantically referred to as “the faraway.”

This 3,000 square foot exhibit, housed in the lower gallery of the Museum, includes several of O’Keeffe’s paintings on loan from museums and private collectors from around the country. Also included are her camping gear, which has never before been displayed to the public; numerous sketches made by the artist while camping and hiking in northern New Mexico; selected pieces of her clothing, including the black hat familiar to her many fans; multiple photos taken of her while camping; and many other images documenting her affinity with the West.

Our guest curator, Dr. Valerie Ann Leeds, is a nationally known scholar of American Modernism. She has studied O’Keeffe’s correspondence at the Beinecke Library at Yale, as well as the libraries of the Amon Carter and Georgia O’Keeffe museums. The exhibit design is by Randy Webster, Vice President of Emerald Palms Design Group, who was also the lead designer of the new galleries in the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the Ride: A Global Adventure exhibit displayed at the National Cowgirl Museum in summer 2006.

The exhibition begins with the artist’s early camping years as a young teacher in Virginia. Visitors can then view her work in New Mexico along with photos taken by Ansel Adams, who spent several trips camping with O’Keeffe. After viewing selected artwork on loan from the Amon Carter and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museums, you can explore a camping location that O’Keeffe affectionately called “The Black Place.” From there, you’ll see the “White Place,” a remote location near Abiquiu, NM, as well as a sketchbook by O’Keeffe.

“O’Keeffe’s life embodied those qualities that go into the word cowgirl,” says Director of Exhibits and Education Diana Vela. “She dedicated her life to something she valued, and in the way she absorbed the natural elements in northern New  Mexico, she exemplified those same qualities that made the West and defined our women.”

Going To Texas: Five Centuries of Texas Maps,
November 6, 2009-January 3, 2010

This special exhibition, put together through a partnership between the Center for Texas Studies at Texas Christian University and the Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, showcased approximately 60 authentic maps from the collection of Yana and Marty Davis. These rare maps ranged from early 16th-century New Spain through the Republic of Texas and statehood and into the 21st century.