Through May 9, visitors are finding unexpected surprises at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The Museum’s original exhibition “The Guitar: Art, Artists and Artisans” is creating some real vibrations across the region with its colorful, entertaining and educational content.
We’re not just talking cowboys and guitars here. Think 50 guitars—worth millions—including some from top recording artists whose image and careers are tied closely to the instrument. Notables include Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Toby Keith, Lynn Anderson, Brooks & Dunn, Eddy Arnold and Marty Robbins. Others are tribute guitars to such legends as Elvis and B.B. King.
The exhibition captures the magic of the guitar, the most popular instrument in America. It is an instrument that appeals to all the senses. The sound, beauty and feel of a guitar give both players and listeners a taste of true art. A portion of the exhibit demonstrates how a guitar is built.
The decorated guitars were painted by Matt Goad, Erin L. Oldfield and Clint Stone. Museum visitors are able to see and hold the guitars and take photos holding them in front of a specially designed photo opp background that resembles Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, home to some of music’s most revered performances.
The finished works are as diverse as the artists who created them. Goad’s is blue and black with red accents and has a play on the modern art theme.
It is titled “Tastee Licks.” Oldfield painted a whimsical Western landscape. It includes a cowboy lassoing the Museum’s name and exhibit title on the back. Stone created a guitar titled “Yo Chupacabra.” The black and multicolored work around “The Day of the Dead” theme has skulls and a depiction of the chupacabra creature.
A fitting complement to the guitar exhibition is a photo exhibit that also runs through May 9. “The Power of Music: Photographic Portraits of Americans and Their Musical Instruments, 1860-1915” provides rare insight into the prevalence of performed music among 19th century Americans.
With the birth of photography, many musicians—including Civil War soldiers, cowboys, Vaudeville performers and middle-class Victorians—were able to pose with their favorite instruments to show their pride and love of music.
The images were collected over a period of 25 years by historian and musician Mark L. Gardner and the vast majority have never been published or assembled for
For information about these exhibitions or other Museum events call (405) 478-2250 or visit www.nationalcowboymuseum.org
The National Cowboy Museum, America’s Premier Western Heritage Museum™, is supported through memberships and private and corporate donations. The Museum is located in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District at the junction of I-35 and I-44.
A SAMPLING OF ACTIVITIES
Concerts at The Cowboy
In conjunction with the exhibit “The Guitar: Art, Artists and
Tuesdays At Sundown
Hear Mark Gardner, curator of the music-themed exhibition, “The Power of Music.” Using vintage instruments from his own collection, Gardner will demonstrate the songs and instrumentals popular during the time period represented in exhibition subtitled “Photographic Portraits of Americans and Their Musical Instruments, 1860-1915.” Some instruments he uses are identical to those found in the exhibit photos. He also will demonstrate the historic playing styles common to those instruments, with an emphasis on music of the American West.
Western Movie Marathon
Thanks to the history of the singing movie cowboys, we associate cowboys with guitars. In conjunction with the Museum’s original exhibition, “The Guitar: Art, Artists and Artisans,” enjoy a taste of yesteryear watching singing cowboy movies in the Dub and Mozelle Richardson Theater, including some featuring Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Show times are 11:00 a.m. followed by a double feature at 1:00 p.m. Free movies and popcorn with Museum admission.
Introduction to the Guitar
Is there a guitar gathering dust at your house or have you always dreamed of learning to play? Get started with a one-hour group lesson from Oklahoma musician Jim Garling. Gain knowledge about how to care for and tune your guitar and learn an old cowboy song. Designed especially for beginners, ages 12 and up, this program is offered in conjunction with the exhibition “The Guitar: Art, Artists and Artisans.” Reservations encouraged, (405) 478-2250, Ext. 277. $10 fee includes lesson and Museum admission.
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