Las Vegas, NM – In celebration of the Las Vegas Cowboys’ Reunion Centennial Celebration, Highlands will host art exhibitions in Kennedy Hall and Donnelly Library’s Ray Drew Gallery.
The Ray Drew exhibit captures the gritty spirit of the Centennial Celebration through rare historic panoramic photographs, and the Kennedy exhibit provides a taste of contemporary cowboy art by New Mexico artists such as nationally known sculptor Duke Sundt. Both exhibitions open Aug. 1.
Tex Crockett from the Shoemaker Family Collection is one of the images featured in a panoramic photography exhibit at Highlands that is part of the Las Vegas Cowboys’ Reunion Centennial Celebration.
Las Vegas fine art photographer Elaine Querry curated the photography exhibit, Picturing the Past: Photographs and Souvenirs from Early Cowboys’ Reunions, which includes Cowboys’ Reunion panoramic rodeo images as large as five feet wide along with smaller rodeo action shots from wild horse races to trick roping. Colorful old-time characters like Idaho Bill Pearson, Prairie Rose Henderson, and Doggie Jones appear in the photos.
The exhibit traces the Cowboys’ Reunion history from 1915 to 1967, with a break during the Great Depression. Memorabilia like saddles and rodeo programs round out the exhibit.
“I wanted to digitally restore the images to keep this important piece of Las Vegas history and heritage alive,” Querry said. “Many of the photos are on loan from local ranching families and haven’t been seen publicly. Most of the rest are from the Las Vegas Art Museum. These photographs are my roots. This exhibit gave me the opportunity to bring them back to life and share them.”
Querry’s grandfather George Bibb, a Santa Rosa area rancher, saddled up for the Cowboys’ Reunions in the 1920s and 1930s along with his brother Dee Bibb of Las Vegas. Querry grew up seeing the 1924 Reunion panorama and other smaller family photos that are part of the exhibit.
She has worked for more than two years to restore 14 panoramas and 15 rodeo photos. After scanning each image, she spent countless hours digitally correcting flaws like scratches, spots and discoloration.
“It was a labor of love as well as an honor. I hope the exhibit will inspire people to take care of their historic family photos and take care of the memories,” Querry said.
Framed reproductions of many of the photographic images will be available for purchase.
Querry’s previous fine art photography exhibits in the Ray Drew Gallery include Mexico: Moments of Truth and Aqua. She started her career as a photojournalist, including a position as chief photographer for The Taos News.
Querry and her husband – author, rancher and former college professor Ron Querry – organized the Las Vegas Cowboys’ Centennial Celebration slated for Aug. 1 – 9. Events from the 100-horse non-motorized parade to the ranch rodeo and cowboy music are listed at www.lvcowboyreunion.com
Margaret McKinney/ Highlands University
Duke Sundt sits with his bronze sculpture “Two Champs” that is part of a contemporary cowboy art exhibit he curated at Highlands for the Las Vegas Cowboys’ Reunion Centennial Celebration.
Sundt’s roots are also in ranching. As a teenager, he spent summers at a family ranch in Sapello Canyon near Las Vegas. At 18, he competed in the 1966 Las Vegas Cowboys’ Reunion Rodeo, earning second-place for bareback bronc riding.
“When you go to the pay window at a rodeo, there’s so much adrenalin pumping through your cells,” Sundt said.
After stints on the rodeo circuit and as a ranch foreman, Sundt earned his BFA from New Mexico State University.
“I was always drawn to sculpting. After working the rodeo circuit, I chose the next hardest way to make a living: being an artist,” Sundt said.
Sundt is best known for his bronze cowboy sculptures, which have been featured in national magazines like Time and Western Horseman. The life-size bronze longhorn sculpture he created for the University of Texas Centennial made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Sundt grew up in a military family and is also known for his sculptures that honor U.S. soldiers such as the massive 14-foot tall Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument.
“This is a well-rounded art exhibit of Western Americana with a strong variety of oil and watercolor paintings, bronze sculptures, and drawings,” Sundt said. “In putting the show together, I looked for quality work with authenticity of detail. In some of the pieces, you can almost taste the dust, feel the rain, and hear the horses nickering. All the artists in this show have lived the cowboy life, and that’s their passion. The pieces portray the flavor, freedom and independence of being a cowboy and rancher.”
Sundt said the artworks include scenes of horses, cattle, wildlife and everyday ranch life. Six of his bronze sculptures are in the show, including the seven-foot bas-relief “Ghost Riders” and the tabletop piece “Cow Pasture Nightingale.”
“Some of the work that stands out for me in this exhibit are a big, impressive bronze sculpture by Curtis Fort called “Stirrin’ the Gravy” that depicts a cowboy struggling with a horse bucking through a camp. JaNeil Anderson’s technique as a painter is flawless and she finds the spice of cowboy life in scenes like “Jump Rope” that shows a cow jumping over a teenage cowboy’s rope.”
Other artists featured in the exhibit include Brian Asher, Mike Capron, Dino Cornay, Edna Harper, Ron Kil, and Brooks Read. The 47 artworks in the exhibit are offered for purchase.
“This exhibit is a glimpse of a ranching lifestyle that is fascinating and most people think is dead. I’m happy to say it’s still very much alive,” Sundt said.
The Ray Drew Gallery exhibit, 802 National Ave., continues through Sept. 15 and the Contemporary Cowboy Art Exhibit in Kennedy Hall, 905 University Ave., continues through Aug. 15.