John Wayne's swagger, the Native American sage (or savage), the promise of gold on the other side of the mountain's crest. The iconography of the Old West is indelibly tied to the story of America, both in history and in myth.
This summer, a new temporary show at the Briscoe Western Art Museum is reexamining what we thought we new about the Western frontier — and inviting viewers to questions their own conventions.
"Into A New West" features 50 contemporary art pieces that "showcase a shift from traditional representations, to new ideologies and expressions of the West," according to a release.
The exhibition features works from the 1960s through today, and is designed to "challenge the conventions of representation that hallmark traditional Western art." As organizers explain, the same 1960s counterculture that led to the Civil Rights and Women's movements also led artists to reexamine the conventions of the Old West. Using traditional narratives as lenses — cowboys on horseback, Native American in tipis — the artists meditate on nontraditional subjects, ranging from the environment to feminism.
"Into A New West" was curated by Georgia's groundbreaking Booth Museum of Western Art, part of the Smithsonian Institution, which is inviting the Briscoe to display it May 24 through September 1.
“The Briscoe is excited to share these groundbreaking works from the Booth Museum with the city of San Antonio and its visitors,” said Briscoe Museum VP Liz Jackson in a release. “The exhibition will resonate with audiences across generations by exploring universal themes presented in a new light.”
In addition to the art, the Briscoe is also hosting a special opening weekend celebration in support of the exhibition. On May 23, guests can get a preview of the show during the "Into A New West" Exhibition Preview Party. A $30 ticket gets partygoers a sneak peek, hors d'oeuvres, and an open bar beginning at 6 pm.
On May 25, Briscoe Museum president and CEO Michael Duchemin will offer a walkthrough of "Into A New West" beginning at 2 pm. And the following afternoon, on May 25, the museum will screen the Kirk Douglas classic Lonely Are The Brave, part of its Summer Film Series. The screening begins at 1 pm.