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Toby Keith

Cowboy Hall of Fame

Frontier Country


Water Taxi

KEY Oklahoma City

At the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, there is no shortage of things Western any time of the year. September 2009 is a stand-out example with special exhibitions bookending the month and added treats in between.

The Museum will open the exhibition “The Jackie Coles Collection: Selected Works” on September 5 and close its Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale after September 7. That’s followed by the opening of the American Indian art show “Bonita Wa Wa Calachaw Nuñez: Selected Works” on September 19 and the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA) 11th Annual Exhibition and Sale, September 26. The diversity and magnitude of these exhibits makes it an especially attractive time to visit.

First on the docket is “The Jackie Coles Collection: Selected Works.” Drawn from a significant gift of art in memory of Jackie Coles of Oklahoma City, this exhibition is back for an encore showing that begins September 5. The display includes 47 works of art that recently have become part of the National Cowboy Museum’s permanent collection.

The Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale is the Museum’s annual blockbuster show of contemporary Western art.

The 2009 edition runs through Labor Day, Monday, September 7, and includes a record 343 Western paintings and sculptures by 108 of the finest contemporary Western artists in the nation.

Exhibiting artists bring a diversity of styles to this prestigious exhibition. Works range from historical pieces that reflect the early days of the West, to more contemporary and impressionist works of art. Landscapes, wildlife and illustrative scenes are always highlighted in the exhibition. Many works remain available for purchase.

Both the Jackie Coles and Prix de West exhibitions can be enjoyed during the Bank of America Museums on Us® Weekend, September 5-6. The Museum welcomes Bank of America customers taking advantage of Museums on Us® the first full weekend of every month. Any ATM, credit or check card from Bank of America provides free general admission for the cardholder. For more details visit, For more details visit,

Opening September 19 is “Bonita Wa Wa Calachaw Nuñez: Selected Works.” Wa Wa Chaw, as she became known, was born into a Luiseño family in 1888 but adopted as a newborn by affluent New Yorkers and removed from Southern California to Manhattan. She became a lecturer, entertainer and activist for Indian and feminist causes. Wa Wa Chaw also was a prolific artist and many of her drawings and original writings are now in the collection of the National Cowboy Museum. This exhibit presents about 30 of her pencil drawings and representative examples of her journals and sketchbooks and is open through May 9, 2010.

The month culminates with the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association (TCAA) 11th Annual Exhibition and Sale, opening September 26 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum® in Oklahoma City. The exhibition and sale offer the finest of Western saddles, bits, spurs, braided rawhide and exquisite silver work by 20 talented gear makers from the United States, Canada and Argentina.

Last year’s 10th anniversary show opened with bang, attracting a record 57 pieces from 20 artists, the most ever exhibiting. Their efforts were rewarded by collectors with sales totaling a record $696,240. Clearly much has been accomplished with the Western gear industry in the last decade. There is great
optimism that these trades are on the upswing, encouraging a new generation of talented men and women to spend years devoted to the hand-made crafts that many observers expected to disappear.

The 2009 exhibition includes four new TCAA members: Russell Yates, bit and spur maker from Rotan, Texas; John Willemsma, saddle maker from Guthrie, Oklahoma; and Armando Deferrari and Pablo Lozano, both rawhide braiders from Argentina.

This prestigious event attracts buyers from across the country interested in purchasing authentic objects that range in value from several hundred dollars to $50,000. While cowboy gear is still in great demand on working ranches throughout America, pieces of this quality are seldom attained without extremely long waiting periods.

In addition to offering fine crafts, the artisans conduct public educational programs that explore traditions and philosophies throughout the West that the artisans want passed to the current generation of horsemen. Seminar presentations focused on silver engraving will be conducted from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Saturday, September 26. The seminar is free to Museum members or with paid Museum admission. An exhibition catalog will be available for purchase from The Museum Store.

New in 2009, is a ticketed reception Friday, September 25 to preview the cowboy gear. The marquee events are the sale and banquet Saturday, September 26. For reservations or information about TCAA activities, call (405) 478-2250, Ext. 219.

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is supported through memberships and private and corporate donations. Nationally accredited, it is located in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District at the junction of I-44 and I-35. For more information, visit

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