After spending time in Louisianna we traveled north back into Mississippi to visit Hattiesburg. We were up in the air about visiting Hattiesburg but after a conversation with a former resident of Hattiesburg (that we met in Cleveland, Mississippi) we decided to invest a day and check out the town.Additionally, visiting Hattiesburg would provide an opportunity to ride the LongleafBike Trail.
Hattiesburg was founded in 1882 by William Hardy and named after his wife Hattie. The land that is now Hattiesburg became available after the Chicksaw and Choctaw peoples were forcibly removed under the Indian Removal Act which allowed the government to relocate the nations to land west of the Mississippi River.
The city thrived in its early days as part of the burgeoning lumber industry (Hattiesburg sits in the Pine Belt) and is known as the Hub City because of the confluence of rail lines running through the city. While the timber industry is not a major economic forcetoday, the city is still a major rail hub with freight lines bisecting the city.
While Hattiesburg was not founded until well after the Civil War, the town nonetheless did its part to uphold the legacy of slavery and segregation. The Black residents of Hattiesburg were still largely unregistered to vote in 1962 due to the efforts of the municipal government to make it impossible for Blacks to qualify to vote.For more information about the Civil Rights Movement in Hattiesburg click on the link: https://mississippiencyclopedia.org/entries/hattiesburg-civil-rights-movement/
Hattiesburg — home of rock ‘n roll?
One facet of Hattiesburg that we were totally unaware of prior to our visit is the claim that Hattiesburg is the true home of Rock ’N Roll. Musicologists have traced the roots of the genre to the Graves brothers – Blind Roosevelt and Uaroy. The brothers started as Gospel singers but in 1936 joined with pianist Cooney Vaughn to form the Mississippi Jook Band. Two of their songs in particular are now viewed as very early Rock ’N Roll songs. These songs, Barbecue Bust and Dangerous Woman, were performed and recorded long before the genre was clearly defined and popular. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pegm79r1zE
The Longleaf Trail is a 45.5 mile paved rails-to-trails bikeway. The southern trailhead is in Hattiesburg and the trail runs in a northwest direction terminating in Prentis. We rode out and back on the southern half of the trail from Hattiesburg and the northern half of the trail from Sumral Station (west of Laurel).
Longleaf is a Hall of Fame trail and for good reason. The trail is paved, in excellent condition and passes through beautiful Southern scenery. Surprisingly, we encountered very few other riders on either of our rides. We highly recommend this trail. The round trip is 91 miles – beyond our current range – so we split the trail and enjoyed two rides.
Laurel is not our ”home Town” but it could be!
Laurel was added to our intinary once we decided to visit Hattiesburg. If you are a fan of the HGTV show Home Town you may recognize Laurel as the small town where husband and wife Ben and Erin Napier help folks renovate local homes. As a result of the popularity of the show, the town has attracted many visitors and new residents.
We visited their retail store and woodworking shop while in town, but there were unfortunately no celebrity sightings. We can tell you their two stores are doing a brisk trade! Good for them – the couple has done a lot to help bring back this former lumber industry town.
We arrived in Laurel on the day of the annual crawfish festival.The festival runs from 11AM to 3PM – all you can eat for $15- Classic Low Country Boil – crawfish, sausage, potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn. Live music to boot. Now that is Southern Hospitality!
Laurel has more than the CrawFest and the TV show to offer. There are several excellent restaurants (The Loft….our favorite) and several neigborhoods with streets lined with live oaks and stately homes. Lastly, the former town library was converted and expanded into an art museumwith a very nice collection of paintings and sculptures.We have included several photogrpahs of our favorite paintings at the end of this post.
This post is our penultimate post on Mississippi as part of OTR 8.0. If you missed our previous posts you can find them at ctsprinterlife: OTR 8.0: Mississippi Part One and Ocean Springs, Mississippi at ontheroadwithmariastephen.net Our final post will cover our exploration of the Mississippi Delta.
As we planned a rough itinerary through the Southeast for OTR 8.0 we had not contemplated a visit to Ocean Springs. In fact, we had never heard of Ocean Springs.
However, that was before meeting Cynthia Comsky, the owner of the Attic Gallery in Vicksburg, who strongly recommended a visit to the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs. Subsequently, we saw a watercolor exhibit of Anderson’s atthe Lauren Rogers Museum in Laurel, Mississippi and knew we needed to visit Ocean Springs and the Walter Anderson Museum.
Much to our delight, the museum met all of our expectations and we found the town itself to be a quaint and friendly destination. In fact, we extended our stay to enjoy the charms of the town and the its friendly inhabitants.
Walter Anderson Museum
”Beware by whom you are called sane.” —- Walter Inglis Anderson
So, of course, our first stop (well, second after coffee – see below on that topic) was the Walter Anderson Museum. The museum is physically attached to the town community center – which is appropriate as its walls are adorned with murals he created (and was paid a meager one dollar). The museum itself is filled with his works as one might expect – however one might not expect to find water colors, oils, wood sculptures, woodblock prints, pencil and ink drawings all by the same artist. His work in each of these mediums is outstanding.
“Last night there was a beautiful sunset. One felt that it had been arranged with taste. So many sunsets seem to be simply wild explosions of color in order to stun people into a state of mute wonder. But this one had variety, vermilion red and purple together, and lilac and gold together against a heavenly clear green turquoise sky. You felt that there would never be bad weather again.” —- Walter Inglis Anderson
“I wonder how long it will be before nature and man accept each other again.”—- Walter Inglis Anderson
The identity of the sitter in the painting above is unknown. She sits slightly askew in her chair with her hands folded delicately in her lap. She gazes off to her right – not making eye contact with the viewer. By positioning his subject in such a way, we first notice the shape that the figure makes, almost reducing her form into a series of S curves against a dark background.
This mural sketch was created for the WPA. This particular scene is a cartoon (or preparatory work) of The Hunt. The closely depicted forms of the hunters, deer, and yellow dog are reminiscent of the cave painting compositions that Anderson saw in France in the 1920s.
“Nature does not like to be anticipated it too often means death, I suppose but loves to surprise; in fact, seems to justify itself to man in that way, restoring his youth to him each time.”—- Walter Inglis Anderson
Walter Anderson loved fairy tales and even described them as being “explosive”- having the ability to inspire life and creativity. Anderson drew, painted, and carved classical images of fairy tales and myths throughout his life. Walter Anderson saw the world as a magical place full of wonder and possibility. Classic tales of mythology populated his daily life on the Gulf Coast. Around his home at Shearwater, Anderson would often carve dead trees into the shapes of nymphs and giants. He read stories to his children and illustrated their lives with fairies and mythic creatures.
Most notably, he created approximately 30 block prints featuring scenes from familiar tales to sell inexpensively to the public. Many of these block prints of myths and fairy tales are displayed here, demonstrating the timeless attraction that these tales have for all.
Bright eyed brew company
Bright EyedBrew Company was a massive bonus – the frosting on our Walter Anderson Museum cake – we did not expect to find a first rate specialtycoffee cafe and roaster in Ocean Springs.
Bright Eyed Brew Company is owned and operated by husband and wife Ryan and Kathryn Reaux. They started the business in 2016 as a part time venture making and selling nitro cold brew from a cart at the local farmers market.Today their cold brew is on tap at a number of restaurants and cafes in the Mississippi Gulf area, and they operate the cafe selling espresso drinks, tea, waffles and, of course, nitro cold brew.
On our first morning in Ocean Springs we stopped at Bright Eyed as the prelude to our museum visit. From the moment we ordered our drinks and sat down in the cafe, local folks began chatting us up – that is what Fika is all about! Three hours later we finally departed for the museum. https://brighteyedbrewco.com/
Once we decided to visit the museum, we needed a place to stay and there were no camping options close by. We found Beatnik online and booked a cabin. The property consists of four cabins and a swimming pool. As you can see from the photographs below they are not rustic cabins.
The Beatnik is cool—Scandinavian style decor, a heated plunge pool and a five minute walk to downtown. Everything is online – registration, door lock combinations, housekeeping requests. What else could a traveler want?https://www.thehotelbeatnik.com/
St JOhn’s Episcopal Church
This lovely church is a two minute walk from the Beatnik. As many of you may recall we visit many churches as we tour – in addition to the spiritual aspect, we find the history and architecture of churches fascinating. We were most fortunate to meet Drew, a retired insurance agent from Jackson and a volunteer at the church. Drew graciously provided us with a tour of the church and we reminisced a bit about the problems with the National Flood Insurance Program (once an underwriter always an underwriter).
St. John’s was built in 1892, and the original church is still standing—which is pretty amazing considering it sits 1000 feet from Biloxi Bay and is a wood frame building. Drew did let us know that the building is to be sprinklered in the near future – this former underwiter is fully supportive of that! https://stjohnsoceansprings.dioms.org/
We think Ocean Springs is a cool little town. If you are an admirer of Walter Anderson and his work, excellent coffee, excellent barbecue (Pleasant’s BBQ) and friendly people, make a point of visiting if you are going to be in the Gulf Region of Mississippi.
Be seeing you!
P.S. If you have been following along at all you probably realize that we have not been publishing our posts in strictly chronological order. We are planning to get back in sync in that regard and we are working to publish a post on the first leg of our journey through Mississippi as we followed the Trans America Trail through Northern Mississippi.
The Ogden Museum of Southern Art (OMSA) is relatively new museum, opening its doors in 1999. Its genesis was the donation of 600 works of art by philanthropist Roger Ogden. Today the museum’s collection has grown to 4000 works and is housed in two buildings – the first built in 1989 and the second in 2003. The museum is located in the warehouse district directly across the street from the impressive National World War 2 Museum.
As the name implies, the museum is focused on art representing the South and -through the art – the history and culture of the South. All of the art in the museum is the work of artists from the 14 southern states and Washington D.C.
We toured the permanent collections featuring Southern Landscapes and Southern Regionalism (culture and values). We also viewed the paintings of Benny Williams – a remarkable story (see biography below) of an artist committed to the civil rights movement.
The Aioli Dinner was Rodrigue’s first major painting with people as subjects. He designed the painting using combinations of photographs taken of the Aioli Gourmet Dinner Club, a group that met once a month on the lawn of a different plantation home in and around New Iberia, Louisiana. Traditionally, only men sat at the table, each with their own bottle of wine. The women seen standing in the back row cooked the food, and the young men around the table served dinner. One of the older men made the aioli, a garlic-mayonnaise sauce. Rodrigue’s grandfather, Jean Courrege, sits on the left near the head of the table, and his uncle Emile is the third boy standing from the left, peeking his head in between the others. All of the figures are portraits of people who lived in and around New Iberia. Rodrigue chose the historic Darby House Plantation as the setting for his painting.*
Bo Bartlett is an American realist painter born 1955 In Columbus, Georgia. At 19, he travelled to Florence, Italy to study painting under Ben Long. He went on to apprentice under Nelson Shanks and to study in several American schools, including Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, and University of the Arts, PA. A Certificate in Filmmaking from New York University in 1986 led him to work with Betty Wyeth on a documentary film, titled Snow Hill, about her husband, Andrew Wyeth, who became both mentor and friend to Bartlett. An interesting detall of this masterwork is the Inclusion of a deer tail ln the frame, and deer hair in the paint. Writlng about Young Life in February of 1994, Bartlett says: “I saw my sister’s son In this shirt and cap. I asked him to pose with his girlfriend in front of my father’s truck. As I took the photo, my youngest son Eliot ran into the picture.*
One of ten children, Benny Andrews was born on November 13, 1930, in Plainview, Georgia, a light skinned, blue-eyed, blond haired baby. James Orr (“Mr. Jim”), his paternal grandfather, was the son of a prominent white plantation owner. His paternal grandmother, who was the midwife at his birth, was Jessie Rose Lee Wildcat Tennessee. And, like her, his maternal grandparents, John and Allison Perryman, were mixed race, with black and Native American blood. Hts father, George Andrews, was a self-taught artist, the “Dot Man,” who never lived more than ten miles from Plainview and never left Georgia. In contrast, his mother, Viola Perryman Andrews, loved travel and was an advocate for education who encouraged her children to write and to draw daily. After becoming the first member of his family to graduate from high school, he attended Fort Valley State College supported by a scholarship. He was not allowed to attend the University of Georgia, in nearby Athens, nor enroll in Lamar Dodd’s well-known art classes there, due to the color of his skin. In 1954, after serving as a military policeman in the Korean War, he used the GI Bill to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, studying under Kathleen Blackshear. No longer constrained by the racial laws of the South, he entered an art museum and saw original masterworks for the first time in 1954, an experience that brought tears to his eyes. After graduating in 1958, he moved to New York, where he maintained a studio for the rest of his life. Despite limited connections to the city’s art world, by 1962 he began to exhibit regularly at Bella Fishko’s Forum Gallery. By the late-1960s, influenced by the Civil Rights Movement, and troubled by the social, racial and gender inequities he discovered in the art world, he entered a period of social and cultural activism which was reflected in his art. After he co-founded the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition in 1969, and participated in marches outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, demonstrating against the exclusion of women and artists of color from those institutions, he was often classified as a “protest artist.” From 1970 through 1976, he executed the “Bicentennial Series,” a project devoted to depicting the complex history of African-Americans for the American Bicentennial. After exhibiting that project, he returned to the studio and to his position as a member of the Queens College art faculty. Beginning in 1982, he served as Director of the Visual Arts Program for the National Endowment for the Arts, a position which brought him increased national stature. He resigned in 1984, feeling he had accomplished what he could and anxious to return to his studio. In 1984, he built a studio outside of Athens, Georgia, where Benny was able to work more closely with his Georgia family. He encouraged his father, “The Dot Man,” to expand his art production to include painted canvases. From 1984 until 1996, when George Andrews died, he worked to advance the recognition of his father’s art. In 2001, after living and working in Manhattan for more than forty years, Benny Andrews and Nene Humphrey renovated and moved to a new studio and residential structure in Brooklyn. The primary focus in the studio during his last years was the “Migrant Series,” inspired by his reading of writers such as Flannery O’Connor and Langston Hughes as well as his rediscovery of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Each of the three major components of this project was planned to reflect one aspect of his own mixed heritage-he was of African-American, Scotch-Irish and Cherokee descent – and was to be related to a major migration in American history, beginning with the Dust Bowl migration to California, continuing with the Cherokee “Trail of Tears” migration, and concluding with the Great Migration of African-Americans to the North. In 2006, after repeated visits to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, he decided to add a concluding chapter to his American “Migrants” series, devoted to the mass migration that emerged in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The evolution of the project was suspended when he was diagnosed with the cancer which led to his death, on November 10, 2006.*
We liked the Ogden very much – really interesting art along with some insight into the South through the stories and moments captured in the paintings of these Southern artists. We recommend visiting the museum when you visit the Big Easy.
The NCWHM was founded in 1955 as the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum with a focus on honoring the cowboy. Today the museum is a smorgasbord of history, culture and fine art. The museum has over 200,000 square feet of display space with twelve galleries including a replica of a western frontier town and a significant collection of firearms in addition to cowboy and Native American art and artifacts. https://nationalcowboymuseum.org/all-galleries/
This post will focus on three painters whose works are in the museum collection, and are well known for their depiction of western life and Native Americans.
Federic Sackrider Remington (1861 – 1909) is undoubtedly one of the most widely recognized artists of the Old American West. As with many of his compatriots, Remington was an Easterner sent to the West to create illustrations for books and magazines which were focused on the romantized West of cowboys and indians.
Unlike many of his fellow artists, he lived in the West for a period of time, owning a ranch and a saloon at different times (neither of which was successful). Remington’s start as a professional artist was actually the bartering of drawings to pay some of his debtors during the period of time he owned the saloon.
While he had very little formal art training, Remington became highly proficient at drawing cowboys, indians and cavalry officers (who paid him handsomely for portraits in uniform).He was quoted as saying “Cowboys are cash with me”.
Remington became quite successful financially, moving back East and taking up residence in a large mansion he had built for his family. Unfortunately for him, he adopted an oppulent life style and essentially ate and drank his way to an early death due to complications from his immense size.
Charles Marion Russell (1864 – 1926) was born in Saint Louis, but from an early age was enamored of the West; by the age of 16 had left home to work as a ranch hand in Montana. He made Montana his home for the rest of his life, marrying Nancy Cooper and building a home in Great Falls.
Russell had no formal art training. He drew scenes from his life on the ranch as a way to record his experiences. “Between the pen and the brush there is little difference but I believe the man that makes word pictures is the greater.” —- Charles Marion Russell
Russell’s wife was influential in marketing his sketches, painting and drawings – as his work became popular he devoted himself full time to his artistic endeavors.By that time, he had spent eleven years ranching and had even lived for a time with a Native American tribe. His first hand knowledge of the West provided him with the ability to portray the West in a manner that other artists could not achieve. It is no wonder that Charlie (as he was known by his friends) is considered America’s true Cowboy Artist.
Russell is considered by many to be an early conservationist. ”A pioneer is a man who turned all the grass upside down, strung bob-wire over the dust that was left, poisoned the water, cut down the trees, killed the Indian who owned the land and called it progress.” —- Charles Marion Russell
As an acknowledgement of his recognition of the need to preserve the environment, a 1.1 million acre national wildlife refuge stretching along a remote portion of the Missouri River in Montana bears his name. We visited the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge during the summmer of 2021 as part of OTR 6.0 ( see post – Montana Prairie…Sun, Heat, Wind and Beauty). The land within the refuge is much the same as it was during Russell’s lifetime. See photographs below. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Charles_M_Russell/about.html
Russell had great respect and admiration for the Native Americans of the Plains and their way of life. Of the 4000 works that he completed during his career, 1700 featured Native Americans as the subject of the work.
“The Red man was the true American. They have almost all gone, but will never be forgotten. The history of how they fought for their country is written in blood, a stain that time cannot grind out. Their God was the Sun, their church all out doors. Their only book was nature and they knew all the pages.” —- Charles M.Russell
Walter Ufer (1876-1936) was born in Germany in 1876, although he spent most of his youth in Louisville, Kentucky where there was a sizable German immigrant population. Unlike Remington and Russell, Ufer was a trained painter, having returned to Germany to study at the Royal Academy in Dresden. He returned to the United States and began work as a Commercial Artist before returning again to Germany to study in Munich.
In 1914, the mayor of Chicago, Carter Harrison and his business partner, Oscar Meyer (yes, that Oscar Meyer), both admirers of Ufer’s work, helped finance a visit to Taos to provide Ufer with new environment to continue his development as an artist (and, of course, sell his paintings back in chicago).
The brilliant light, landscapes and Native American culture of New Mexico captivated Ufer.Ufer very quickly abandoned working in the studio and began working outdoors in order to capture the brilliant light of the southwest and the daily activites of Native Americans and Hispanos.
Ufer’s depictions of the Taos Pueblo Indianswere rarely romanticized. He was a committed socialist and soon came to believe that the Euro-American settlers were largely responsible for the destruction of Native American culture and identitythat had occurred in America.
“The Indian has lost his race pride, he wants only to be an American. Our civilization has terrific power. We don’t feel it, but that man out there in the mountains feels it, and he cannot cope with such pressure.”—- Walter Ufer
Ufer realized both critical and commercial success from his depictions of Native Americans and the southwestern landscape. The stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression were diasterous for Ufer. The public fascination with art depicting Indians and the West diminished significantly as the financial crisis deepened and endured.
Sadly, as the sale of his work evaporated and his financial burdens mounted he turned to alcohol. He died in 1936 at the age of 60 as the result of a ruptured appendix.
At one time, the images of the West that were shared via the work of these three artists and others were viewed as illustrative of how the white man won the West and conquered the savagetribes of Indians. The winning of the West was considered a noble and necessary precursor to American greatness – our Manifest Destiny.
None other than Theodore Roosevelt said it is “our manifest destiny to swallow up the land of all adjoining nations who were too weak to withstand us.” Many of the Western artists were, as such, unwitting propagandists for the conquering of the West through their depiction of Native Americans as savages who murdered innocent white settlers. Today it is commonly acknowledged that Native Americans were in fact fighting to remain on their sacred lands and maintain their way of life.
This post is not about villifying the featured artists – they painted the West as they saw and experienced it. Both Russell and Ufer were sympathetic to the plight of the Native American and Hispano peoples.Neither is the post meant to be critical of the museum – the NCWHM is a wonderful museum and we highly recommend a visit when your travels take you to Oklahoma City.
This is the final post from OTR 7.0. We will back on the road in early March. Be seeing you!
PPHM is located in Canyon, Texas, approximately 20 miles south of Amarillo. The museum opened to the public in 1933. It was the brainchild of Hattie Anderson, an educator who had moved to Canyon to teach history at the West Texas Normal School (now West Texas A&M University).
Hattie was fascinated by the history of the area and began to enlist the aid of individuals in the area to form a historical society to preserve the history and culture of the Panhandle-Plains. The historical society flourished for thirteen years; the growing collection of artifacts created the need for more space. The historical society then funded the creation and operation of the museum.
Today the museum continues to prosper and is home to over three million artifacts within the 285,000 square foot complex. The museum provides insight into the past and the present of many facets of the people,culture, history and industry of the Panhandle-Plains. The collection includes galleries devoted to paleontology, archeology, geology, Native American culture, textiles, petroleum extraction and western art.
We enjoyed the PPHM immensely and strongly recommend devoting at least a half day visit when you visit the Amarillo – Lubbock area of the Panhandle. In addition to the museum this area offers ample outdoor recreational opportunities (Palo Duro Canyon and Caprock Canyon – see post: CTSPRINTERLIFE: TOURING THE PANHANDLE). https://wordpress.com/post/ontheroadwithmariastephen.net/6946
OTR had the great fortune to meet Deanna Lowe Craighead, Curator of Art at the PPHM, while visiting another museum in the panhandle. In addition to dialing us in about the Bisttram exhibition, Deanna also provided us with the recommendation to visit the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa ( see post FINE ART TOURIST PHILBROOK MUSEUM OF ART). https://wordpress.com/post/ontheroadwithmariastephen.net/7362 The balance of this post is dedicated to the Bisttram exhibit and a bit of his biography.
Emil Bisttram was born in Nagylak, Hungary (now Nadlac, Romania) in 1895. His family emigrated to New York City in 1906. Bisttram studied art at National Academy of Design, Cooper Union, the Art Students League, and the New York School of Fine and Applied Art. He also taught art while studying and was known through out his career as an excellent and sought after teacher.
Bisttram visited Taos, New Mexico in 1930. Initially he was overwhelmed by the size and scale of the New Mexico landscape and he struggled to capture the majesty of the environment. Despite that he returned to Taos in 1932 and it remained his home until his death in 1976.
Bisttram evolved from painting New Mexico landscapes and native culture to a decidely abstractionist style. The painting above (Storm Over Taos, 1931) is representative of his early work in New Mexico. The photographs of his paintings below are from the PPHM exhibit (private collection on loan – Ladd Family) and show his progression into abstraction.
Transcendental painting group (TPG)
Bisttram, along with Raymond Jonson, formed the TPG. The TPG was part of the Non-Objective Abstractionist wave of Modernism – which in part emanated from the influx of artists fleeing the increased political disruption ocurring during the 1930s in Europe.
“The Transcendental Painting Group is composed of artists who are concerned with the development and presentation of various types of non-representational painting; painting that finds its source in the creative imagination and does not depend upon the objective approach.” —- TPG Manifesto
While we do not enjoy the work of some popular avant garde abstract artists, in our very humble opinion we think the paintings of the TPG artists and in particular Bisttram are in a different category. The work is clearly non-objective in may regards but relatable and created with a clear design in mind. We would love to know what you think.
Be seeing you!
P.S. Added bonus of visiting the PPHM – the excellent Palace Coffee is a five minute walk from the museum.
From 1927 to 1938 the Villa Philbrook, as it was known, was the family residence of Waite and Genevieve Phillips. The Italian Renaissance style villa as originally built consisted of 72 rooms set on 23 acres of gardens. Phillips donated the mansion to the city of Tulsa for use as an art museum in 1938.
The PMOA opened to the public in 1939. A 70,000 square foot wing was added in 1990 along with a redesign of the garden space ( the new wing also houses a very fine cafe). The museum houses 16,000 works in its permanent collection with a focus on Native American, American and European art.
Historical footnote: Phillips was a member of the Phillips family which founded Phillips Petroleum in 1917. Today the company trades as Phillips 66 and is one of the largest petroleum refiners in the world with revenues of approximately $107b.
Native american and american artists
We enjoyed our visit to the PMOA, and especially appreciated the focus the museum brings to Native American artists. The museum showcases the evolving manner and styles in which Native Americans have been portrayed over the last 150 years – both fascinating and enlightening.
In addition to the finely curated collection, the museum itself is a wonderful piece of architecture. The extravagance and oppulence of a 72 room villa for a family of four is hard to fathom (at least for OTR), but makes for an inspired setting for the art work and artifacts. And of course, the gardens extending down the slope behind the villa are spectacular.
We absolutely recommend an afternoon at the PMOA when you visit Tulsa!
Be seeing you.
P.S. We also recommend having lunch when visiting the PMOA – KITCHEN 27 is excellent.
Roswell is known primarily as the location of an alleged UFO crash that took place in 1947. Strangely, the purported crash site is 75 miles from Roswell – oh well, close enough for tourism purposes. I do not want to put a damper on the UFO tourist trade (and a our little blog won’t) but the UFO was, in fact, a weather balloon!
From our perspective (with all due respect to UFO fans) there is a much better reason to visit Roswell. As we did a quick bit of research on the town we found a website for the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, and decided to visit the museum the morning following our arrrival.
The next morning (after coffee and tea) we set out to walk to the museum just a short distance away. We feared we had made a wrong turn along the way as the only building we could see ahead looked much more like a warehouse than the exterior of a museum. However, upon getting loser to the building there was signage indicating that the building was in fact the home of the AMoCA.
Donald B. Anderson
We were delighted to find ourselves in a bright and colorful space with paintings covering the walls from floor to ceiling. The museum covers 22,000 square feet and is divided into twelve galleries with more than 500 artworks on display.
The photographs of the large scale landscape paintings directly above and below are by Donald B. Anderson, who was a highly successful businessman and artist. He founded the museum in order to bring more art and culture to Roswell and southeastern New Mexico. While a number of his delighful landscapes occupy one of the galleries, the museum is about much more than Mr Anderson.
roswell artists-in-residence (rair)
In addition to the museum itself, Mr Anderson created and funded the Roswell Artists-in-Residency program to bring artists from around the world to work in Roswell. The photograph above and all those below are of artworks by artists that participated in the program since its inception in the late 1960s.
In 2002 the RAIR Foundation assumed full reponsibilty for the management of both the museum and the residency program. RAIR provides a full year residency and includes lodging, studio space and a stipend; over 250 artists have participated in the program since its inception.
AMoCA is a first rate museum with a wide range of work by the artists that have benefited from RAIR. If your travels will be taking you in the vicinity of Roswell or even if you are just passing through we recommend that you visit this gem in the desert.
The OKCMOA is the product of two Oklahoma City art museums that merged in 1989. The current modern and architecturally impressive downtown location was newly constructed and opened in 2002. OKCMOMA is a fully privately funded organization that has significant local individual and corporate support.
The museum has a diverse collection which we found to be well curated. As an example, the portrait gallery includes portraits that were painted in a period spanning 1820 through 2018 and brings a focus less to the style of painting and more to the culture and norms of the period. We have included photographs of several of our favorite paintings from the portrait gallery below.
Many are familiar with the beautiful glass work of Dale Chihuly and his studio. The OKCMOA has one of the largest collections of his work anywhere. The pieces included in the OKCMOA collection span over 30 years of Chihuly’s work.
The collection is exquisite. What really adds to the collection is the staging of the various pieces – the lighting is set perfectly and most of the installations can be viewed from multiple perspectives adding greatly to the experience (and allowing for the possibility of reasonably good photographs!).
Followers of OTR know that we admire many styles and schools of art while having a special affinity for art from the southwest. We have included photographs of several of our favorites from the collection on display at OKCMOA.
Our two favorites from the genre of Realist paintings.
OKCMOA is a very fine mid-sized museum which can be viewed in two to three hours, and should be included in your Oklahoma City itinerary. We will be writing about another OKC museum, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in an upcoming post.
Nicolai Fechin emigrated, along with his wife and daughter, from Russia to New York City in 1923. He was already a well-established artist when he arrived in the States. Fechin developed tuberculosis while living in New York City, visited Taos in 1926 in search of a healthier environment and moved to Taos in 1927.
Fechin purchased an adobe revival house and, along with several members of the Taos Pueblo, worked on expanding and renovating the property for about six years. The beautiful property pictured in this post is the result of those labors.
The house is now part of the Taos Art Museum, exhibiting paintings by Fechin and other well known southwest artists. The property surrounding the home was sold in order to raise the initial funds to convert the property to a museum. Fortunately, the family created covenants to prohibit the home from being occupied as a private residence.
With the exception of two pieces, all of the furniture in the house was hand carved by Fechin. Additionally, he carved all of the closets and interior doors throughout the house.
As we mentioned earlier in the post Fechin was an established artist when he emigrated to New York City. We have included below a gallery of some of his paintings which are on display throughout the house.
Taos museum of art at fehcin house
The collection at Fechin House also includes a number of paintings by other renowned artists. We have included photgrpahs of several of our favorites below.
We have posted on our visit to Taos (The High Road to Taos and Taos) previously and recommended Taos as worthy of a several day visit. The Taos Museum of Art at Fechin House is an additional reason to visit Taos as part of your New Mexico travel plans.
The Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway is a spectacular drive. The route follows a paved road from Wise, Montana to its end near Dillon, Montana. The Pioneer Mountains have an eastern and western range. The drive winds through the meadows between the ranges providing incredible views all around. Interestingly, the two ranges are very different in appearance. The eastern range has tall, jagged peaks (think Grand Tetons) while the western range is more rounded. These are big mountains with several peaks above 11,000 feet.
We were not familiar with this range before a gentlemen in Shelby told us about this drive – thank you! This is one of the biggest ranges we had never heard of before. The range is within national forest – largely unspoiled – just mountains, forests, meadows and the the byway bisecting the range.
About 25 miles along the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway we came to a five mile dirt road that climbs up to the site of the ghost town of Coolidge and the defunct Elkhorn Mine and Mills. The road is fine for 2wd vehicles if it is dry.
The former mine and town sit at an elevation of 6601 feet. The mine produced zinc, lead and silver from 1875 until it was decommissioned in 1899 when the ore load was considered to be played out. The Elkhorn was the last mine in Montana to produce silver.
Work to reopen the mine under new ownership began in 1918. The tunneling work brought people back to Coolidge and a school and post office were established. The town even had electricity – no small feat at that time in such a remote location. Unforunately, by the time the tunneling was completed and the mine was actually ready to begin producing in 1923, silver prices plummeted and the mine went bust.
Subsequently, a dam collapse wiped out several sections of rail line and the town lost rail service marking the beginning of the end. The school and post office closed soon after.
The remains of the town are mostly collapsed at this point – not much to explore in that regard, but we think it is worth the visit – the scenery from the mine site is gorgeous and you walk away with a real sense of the what conditions must have been like when the mine and town were operating.
After completing our drive on the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Highway we continued south through the Grasshopper Valley to visit the ghost town of Bannack. The town sits on the bank of Grasshopper Creek and was founded in 1862 after gold was found in the creek. The town is named after the Bannock Indians that inhabited this area at that time – the spelling with an a instead of an o was the result of a clerical error in Washington.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition first documented the creek in 1805 and named it Willard Creek. When the population swelled in 1862 after the discovery of gold, the miners renamed it Grasshopper Creek due to the abundance of grasshoppers in the area.
In addition to the influx of miners (many from Colorado) prospecting for gold, the town became a haven for Civil War deserters and outlaws (in part due to its remote location). Within a year there were approximately 3000 people inhabiting Bannack. Almost all of the inhabitants were men. The handfull of women in town were mostly “saloon girls” who worked in one of the four saloons.
As the population continued to swell (10,000 people at its height), the outlaws took full advantage of the opportunity to relieve miners of their gold. Miners frequently went back and forth between Bannack and the mining camp at Virginia City. By this point the outlaws had organized into several large gangs and routinely robbed and in some cases murdered the miners.
The town hired a sheriff (Henry Plummer) to stop the violence but he turned out to be the leader of the largest and most violent of the gangs. Dang!
As this fact became well known, folks of Bannack and Montana decided to take matters into their own hands, forming the Montana Vigilence Committee. Between December 1863 and February 1864, 24 men suspected of crimes were lynched by the Vigilantes. There were no trials! One of the most notable of the men hanged was Sheriff Henry Plummer, who was suspected of being a gang leader. Montana State Police still wear a shoulder patch with the numbers 3-7-77. The numbers supposedly represent the dimensions of the graves of ths suspected outlaws killed by the vigilantes. Three feet wide, seven feet long and 77 inches deep…and now you know.
As with many gold rush towns, the bust comes just as quickly as the boom. By 1870, the easy gold was dredged out of the creek and the population began to quickly decline. Bannack’s population dropped from almost 10,000 to just a few hundred by 1870, only eight years after its founding.
The town carried on until the 1940s due to several small gold booms, but they were not enough to sustain the town. The majority of the remaining population moved on during the 1930s and by the 1940s the one room schoolhouse and the post office closed. The town was effectively non-existent, although a small number of residents hung on into the 1970s.
Today Bannack is managed by the state of Monatana as part of Bannack State Park. The state has done an excellent job preserving the remaining structures as they were but is not restoring the buildings
The history of this short lived town is deep and fascinating. The town physically has over 60 structures remaining – the majority are open for exploration.
If you enjoy western history, Bannack is a fun and interesting place to visit. The Grasshopper Valley is beautiful but remote, so give thought with combining a visit to Bannack with other destinations in southwestern Montana and perhaps Idaho.
Friday night rodeo is a weekly event during the summer in many ranching towns in the west. Kids begin competing at age six. Most high schools have rodeo teams and there is a collegiate circuit as well. Towns take great pride in their rodeo stadium.
The video below is of Cole Trexler, age 18, Montana high school all-around rodeo state champion. Cole will be riding at the collegiate level this fall. His brother Cash, 14, is also a budding rodeo star. He is the high school state champion bull rider. We met Cash and his mom. She told us that Cash “sat” his first horse at age three!
The Senior Professional Rodeo Association was in Darby for the weekend while were camping up the road a piece in Victor. On a gorgeous Friday evening we enjoyed watching the cowboys and cowgirls compete in bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping and barrel racing (cowgirls only). The senior circuit is for cowboys and cowgirls forty and over.
The local rodeo is a big deal. The whole town turns out to support the riders. It is also deeply imbued with patriotic and christian themes. The opening ceremony includes prayers for the safety of the riders as well as the servicemen and servicewomen who protect our freedom. The prayers are also for our political leadership – that they make the hard decisions necessary to protect our way of life.
The photos below were taken at the Little Smith Creek Ranch where we camped for several nights. We were the only campers at the ranch during our stay. To say that the setting was idylic is an understatement. The ranch is located at the base of the Bitteroot Mountains on the western edge of the valley and our view to the east extended across the valley to the Sapphire Mountains. Plenty of deer wandering by as well. Wow!
Biking and hiking Bitteroot
The Little Smith Creek Ranch, while remote with spectacular scenery, is only minutes from a good number of spectacular hikes into the Bitteroot.
The photos above and below are from our favorite hike. The Kootenai Creek Trail follows a fast flowing creek with waterfalls and pools up to the North Kootenai Lake – a distance of about ten miles to reach the lake, and no – we did not make it all the way to the lake!
Clark fork of the columbia river
The Clark Fork of the Columbia River is a 310 mile long river originating as the Silver Bow Creek in Butte. It carries water from a substantial portion of the Rocky Mountains into the Columbia River Basin, which makes the river an excellent choice for white water rafting.
We ran a number of rapids which were mostly class 3. Early spring produces the biggest rapids -class 5- due to snow melt while by August most of the rapids are class 1 or 2 due to the reduced flow of water.
I am not sure if it was due to our senior citizen status or not but we had three guides on our raft! Regardless, were glad to have the two additional paddlers when we went into the bigger rapids.
Fika and art: Missoula style
After our stay in the beautiful Bitteroot Valley we drove north to Missoula. We had hoped to do some more bicycling in addition to river rafting but the heat was too much for us to manage the cycling side of the equation.
We did stay for a couple of days and spent some time at two local coffee shops and visited the interesting (but small) Missoula Art Museum (MAM).
Southwestern montana…hidden gem
Southwestern Montana did not originally factor into our initial planning but after conversations with several Montanans we decided to vector to the region and we are pleased that we did. The southwest corner of Montana is well known to fishing and hunting aficionados, but it’s not found on the standard tourist itinerary.
We had a piece of the planet to ourselves (well, at least regarding other humans) for stretches of time as we drove through the Pioneer Mountains and the pristine Grasshopper Valley. We will definitely return to the area for a more extended stay in the future – lots of hiking, ghost towns and backroads to be explored and dispersed camping under the dark sky.