The Wild West Starts Here

The landscape and wildlife of the American West are the stuff of legend. San Antonio sits at a “continental divide” as a gateway to the American West and is considered a crossroads between the more humid East and the drier West.

The American West has been the subject of enormous widespread attention through various artistic means of telling stories for decades. Primarily in the latter half of the nineteenth century after the California Gold Rush, visual arts figured prominently in the stories told by explorers and in travel literature, Western fiction, illustrations, and photography. Drawings, sketches, paintings, and sculptures by artists such as George Catlin, Karl Bodmer, Frederic Remington, and Charles Marion Russell captured people’s imaginations long before film, television, and other media came into being. Combining a documentary approach with a sense of romantic realism, visual artists of the American West captured the essence of the American frontier, the Old West, and the Western United States.

Wild cats, coyotes, deer, and Big Horn sheep roam these western lands. Some are revered, hunted, or even loathed by farmers trying to protect their herds. Many contemporary artists have worked to capture the beauty and essence of the animals of the American West. Wildlife roaming the plains, prairies, and mountains, remind us of the wildness and expanse across the land. In Greg Beecham’s August Rumblings, we come face to face with a bison. The dust surrounds him, and we can almost feel the heat from his breath. Ralph Oberg’s Prairie Sundown, shows Pronghorn Antelope bathed in the light of the setting sun. 

The preservation of animals through taxidermy provides a glimpse of how some of these wild animals look. We may not otherwise get as close to a coyote, bobcat, or wild turkey as we can in the Briscoe’s collection. 

Artists have been painting, sculpting, and drawing these creatures for ages. At the Briscoe, there are many opportunities to see wild animals of the West up close. We can tell a part of the story of the American West through art.