As the nation commemorates the 200th anniversary of the 1804 - 1806 expedition of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and their Corps of Discovery, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum® in Oklahoma City presents two exhibitions that document the famous expedition’s route. On view through April 28 is Charles Fritz: An Artist with the Corps of Discovery, a national traveling exhibit containing more than 60 original works of art by Montana artist Charles Fritz. Running through May 8 is Brent Phelps: Photographing the Lewis and Clark Trail, a national traveling exhibit of 66 panoramic prints
These two exceptional exhibitions present fascinating and colorful perspectives of the locales and landscapes similar to those recorded by the explorers. From 1997 to 2002, Texas photographer Brent W. Phelps made an extensive photographic survey of the trans-Mississippi route explored by Lewis and Clark from 1804 to 1806. This exhibition, which is organized by the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, juxtaposes selected journal passages with Phelps’ photographs, highlighting 200 years of change and drawing dramatic and often ironic parallels between the past and the present.
Referring to the explorers’ journals and using Global Positioning System technology, Phelps located sites visited by the expedition and photographed the locales during the same seasons and under weather conditions similar to those recorded by the explorers. Rather than trying to duplicate each scene as it would have appeared in the early 1800s, Phelps turned his camera onto the complex relationship between civilization and nature, capturing the sites as they appear today-with all of the cultural evolution generated by the passage of time.
Charles Fritz: An Artist with the Corps of Discovery features the works of the National Cowboy Museum's Prix de West artist Charles Fritz, an outdoor artist who spent more than five years researching and documenting on canvas the important landscapes and sites encountered by the original expedition. Although Lewis and Clark created extensive journals during their epic trek, they didn't bring an artist to document what they saw for future generations. The University of Montana set out to correct the oversight with this exhibition created by Fritz. For more in-depth study of the Corps of Discovery, the Museum offers entertaining, educational programs throughout March 2005. The series titled March with Lewis and Clark consists of several program offerings, including special events every weekend in March; “Twilight Tuesdays” evening programs; “15-Minute Fridays” that provide introductory tours of the Lewis & Clark exhibitions; and “Saturdays for Kids,” hands-on activities developed especially for children ages 4-12. A schedule of these programs is posted on the Museum’s web site at www.nationalcowboymuseum.org.
Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is located at the junction of I-44 and I-35. For more information, call 405-478-2250.
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