Arts & Culture
The Briscoe Conjures Western America, Past and Present
Published: November 6, 2013
The second floor includes contemporary works from Chinese painter Z.S. Liang (who developed a fascination with Native American culture as subject matter while studying painting in Massachusetts), Native American sculptor Doug Hyde and wildlife adventurist Sandy Scott, who, like Hyde, works primarily with bronze. There’s also notable works by artist Maynard Dixon, whose sweeping, modernist landscapes and social realism owe a debt to his second wife, photographer Dorthea Lange.
The third floor galleries explore the art, history and culture of the West by connecting different periods, regions and people with an emphasis on the Borderlands and the Southern Plains. Much of this floor is devoted to artifacts. The massive arrangement of spurs ranging in age from 20 to 200 years creates a work of art on its own. The main gallery also includes Pancho Villa’s last saddle with an elegant devil and snake motif made of braided silver. A collection of rifles and pistols showcases a Springfield Armory Model 1865 Spencer Rifle along with a variety of make and models. As a counterpoint of sorts, a display of Mexican Army generals’ uniforms and pistols from the 1800s remind one that a strong Hispanic presence forged the region as we know it today. Another gallery provides a rare glimpse of maps and documents that include land grants from Stephen F. Austin. An Ex-Voto painting adds mystery—and Catholic influence—to the mix. Amidst the artifacts, the third floor offers some exceptional pieces by famed artists like Frederic Remington and George Catlin, the latter whose portraits of Native Americans continue to influence depictions of historic tribes.
Throughout the museum, exhibits like “The Women of the West” provide an educational slant to the collections, but you don’t need a class field trip to enjoy what the Briscoe has to offer. Whether you’re more interested in studying land grants, taking in a Remington or getting up-close-and-personal with real cowboy and Native American artifacts, the Briscoe delivers the West to SA’s doorstep.