Few symbols have been more durable than the American cowboy. This program will give an overview of this populist figure, whose image was first defined by painters Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. Also important to the story are brave cowgirls and the Mexican vaqueros. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show showcased mythic cowboy culture, with singing cowboys, pretty girls on horses, and plenty of Indians in his internationally popular extravaganzas that for many defined the American West. Arizona’s contribution to this chronicle is significant, and includes Lon Megargee (the state’s original cowboy artist). Contemporary artists continue to portray this tradition.
Betsy Fahlman is Professor of Art History at Arizona State University. An authority on the art history of Arizona, her books include New Deal Art in Arizona (2009) and The Cowboy’s Dream: The Mythic Life and Art of Lon Megargee (2002). She is the author of two essays in catalogues published in 2012 by the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff: “New Women, Southwest Culture: Arizona’s Early Art Community” (in Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton: Artist and Advocate in Early Arizona) and “Making the Cultural Desert Bloom: Arizona’s Early Women Artists” (in Arizona’s Pioneering Women Artists: Impressions of the Grand Canyon State).