In 1936, Texas celebrated its centennial. After intense competition between the major cities in Texas at that time, primarily San Antonio, Houston, and Dallas, the north Texas city won the right to host the Texas Centennial Central Exposition. Dallas had been hosting the State Fair of Texas since at least 1885, and presented the most elaborate and extensive array of new construction and opportunities to present to the world what Texas was all about.
Included in these ambitious plans was a new Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Among the exhibitions to be presented at the centennial celebration would be an historical survey of American art. Borrowing from institutions and private collectors across the nation, this exhibition would be touted as one of the finest of its kind ever presented in the United States up to that point. Moreover, part of the art exhibitions would be an opportunity to show the world what art-making in Texas looked like in 1936.
Unfortunately, perhaps the most important figure in Texas art was conspicuously not invited to the party, neither in the survey of American art nor in the Texas section. This artist had one of the most distinguished exhibition records of any Texas artist before or since 1936, including the National Academy of Design, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and other public institutions, as well as two world's fairs. Moreover, despite having moved to Dallas in 1890; despite having brought the finest in American art to the State Fair of Texas for at least a decade so as to give the Fair art exhibition a strong foundation; despite having devoted his career to bringing art in all forms to Dallas, including exhibiting his own work, offering musical and theatrical performances, and establishing the very first public art gallery in Dallas; and despite having taught thousands of children in Dallas through art to be better observers of the world around them; the artist left off that invitation list was none other than Frank Reaugh.
Ironically, that same year Reaugh wrote a small pamphlet entitled simply, Biographical, in which he described how his art took a different trail from his contemporaries Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington. Reaugh felt that during the Texas trail driving years he "was the only artist, it seems, who thought of [trail drives and Texas longhorns] as being a subject to paint." Calling longhorns, "Texas cattle," Reaugh probably painted—and photographed--the only images of true Texas longhorns, before they were cross-bred with European cattle. Furthermore, Reaugh's plein-air pastels of the landscape of the Southwest, usually done along the Red, Wichita, Brazos, and Concho rivers and on into New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, and even Wyoming, show his interest in preserving the landscape of the American Southwest before it was overgrazed or plowed under:
"I like to be where the skies are unstained by dust and smoke, where the trees are untrimmed and where the wild flowers grow. I like the brilliant sunlight, and the far distance. I like the opalescent color of the plains. It is the beauty of the great Southwest as God has made it that I love to paint."
Inventor, teacher, artist, and arts promoter all describe the man who is truly Texas's "Leonardo." Moreover his paintings are unparalleled in American art. Appropriately, he is often called the "Dean of Texas Artists." Moreover, Reaugh may have had greater impact on the future of Texas art than any artist or teacher prior to World War II, and possibly even today. Frank Reaugh was a genius.
Most publications on Reaugh up to this point have focused more on his eccentricities ("ate corn meal mush for breakfast"; "slept on sawhorses") or on the sketching trips with students as some kind of bohemian precursor to the "Merry Pranksters" of 1960s infamy. Moreover, some authors on Reaugh had their own axes to grind attempting to have had him rub shoulders with Old Texas or Old West characters. Furthermore, much of that which has been written about Reaugh has been so much folderol about the authors themselves; rarely has Reaugh been allowed to speak for himself. Finally, there are those raconteurs about Reaugh who suffer mightily for him, or have attempted to absorb some of his spotlight as their own. Sadly, no publication on Reaugh that I am aware of has ever looked critically at his life and career, nor seriously for that matter. Unfortunately, Reaugh has become somewhat legendary, and in most cases, the legend was printed. However, while the facts support much of the legend, the facts are a far greater story. My monograph is an attempt to let Mr. Reaugh, and the truth about him, speak for itself.
Meet Michael R. Grauer
Michael Grauer is the McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture/Curator of Cowboy Collections and Western Art at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Mr. Grauer holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in art history from the University of Kansas; the Master of Arts in art history from Southern Methodist University; and the Master of Arts in history from West Texas A&M University. He began his career at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and was curator of art and Western heritage at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum for 31 years, and has been a museum curator for 35 years. He has curated over 150 exhibitions on Western art, culture, and history, authored over 70 publications, and appeared in ten documentaries in the US and in Germany. He taught art history and Western American Studies at West Texas A&M University from 1999 to 2017. CASETA gave him a Distinguished Service Award in 2009. He wrote the Dictionary of Texas Artists, 1800-1945 in 1999 and continues to revise it. He was the University of Kansas Kress Foundation Department of Art History's distinguished alumnus for 2012. He received CASETA's exhibition and publication award for his exhibition and catalogue, Branding with Brushstroke and Color: Texas Impressionism, 1885-1935. His 2016 book, Rounded Up In Glory: Frank Reaugh, Texas Renaissance Man, is considered the biography on Reaugh. In September 2021, his book, Making a Hand: The Art of H. D. Bugbee, received the Western Heritage Wrangler Award for Best Western Art Book for 2020. He was inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame at Dodge City, Kansas, as Cowboy Historian for 2021.
Texas Ranger Capt. William L. Wright of Company A was sent in 1927 to keep the peace in Wink, Texas, an oil boom town near the New Mexico border. There he learned about Jal, where "Two-Gun Dick" Herwig had taken charge after being chased out of Texas. Wright led a raid on Herwig's empire that included federal, state, and county lawmen, successfully using the tactic of having the latter "deputized" by a federal judge to operate across the line. The incident, just one of many connected with Prohibition and keeping the peace in Texas oil towns, is particularly interesting because of the interagency cooperation involved, and the ultimately peaceful outcome.
Meet Richard B. McCaslin, PhD
Richard B. McCaslin, TSHA Professor of Texas History at the University of North Texas, is the author or editor of nineteen books. These include Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862, which earned a Tullis Prize and AASLH commendation; Lee in the Shadow of Washington, which won a Laney Prize and Slatten Award and was nominated for a Pulitzer; Fighting Stock: John S. "Rip" Ford of Texas, which got a Pate Award and Bates Award; At the Heart of Texas: One Hundred Years of the Texas State Historical Association, 1897-1997, which won an Award of Merit from the Texas Philosophical Society; and Saratoga on the Cibolo: Sutherland Springs, Texas, which received a Publication Award from the San Antonio Conservation Society. His Tennessee volume for the Portraits of Conflict series earned the Douglas Southall Freeman Award, and the series received an AASLH commendation. A Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association and Admiral in the Texas Navy, he also has commendations from the Civil War Round Tables in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Shreveport for his academic work on the Civil War era.
The public perception of the American West has been heavily influenced by dime novels, books, movies, and television. Until fairly recently, the Hollywood version of the cowboy portrayed a hardy, self-reliant knight of the plains. With few exceptions, the Hollywood cowboys were typically Anglo males. Women and minorities were relegated to secondary roles or simply whitewashed out of the story. The stories of these "Neglected Cowboys" are integral to the history of the American West.
Meet Wayne Ludwig
Wayne Ludwig is a Fort Worth native, cattle trails historian, and author of The Old Chisholm Trail: From Cow Path to Tourist Stop (Texas A&M University Press, 2018). He created the Texas Cattle Trails History Group on Facebook and is a member of Western Writers of America, Academy of Western Artists, and Old Trail Drivers Association of Texas. The Old Chisholm Trail was awarded the Elmer Kelton Book of the Year award by the Academy of Western Artists. The book was also named a Finalist for 2018 Most Significant Scholarly Book by the Texas Institute of Letters. Wayne has been a guest speaker at various symposiums and historical association events and instructor for TCU Silver Frogs extended education.
Tom Ashmore and C.A. Maedgen conducted a new archeological study in 2022 to determine the layout of the cavalry sub-post of Fort Clark, Camp Meyers Spring. With over 1,000 hours of research and field work, and using new technology of satellite and drone imagery, as well as terrain reconnaissance and artifact mapping, they were able to determine the layout of the entire encampment, including the Seminole Negro Indian Scout Camp, right down the individual tents. They will present a presentation of their work, showing all of the entire 30 acre camp.
Meet Tom Ashmore
Tom Ashmore spent 21 years in the Air Force as a special intelligence analyst. After retiring as an analyst, he worked as a contractor teaching intelligence skills for the Air Force Intelligence School for 20 years at Goodfellow AFB, Texas. As a member and vice president of the Concho Valley Archeological Society, he headed up archeological investigations of Butterfield's Overland Mail's Johnson's Station in Irion County, Grape Creek Station in Coke County and Horsehead Crossing Station in Crane County. He also headed up investigations of Paint Rock 1800s Historic Camp Sites in Concho County; Tower Hill Military Lookout in Sterling County; and ancient rock shelters in the Lower Pecos region of Texas, working with both Conch Valley and the Iraan Archeological Societies. He completed a book in 2019 on his Butterfield Trail investigations, The Butterfield Trail Through the Concho Valley and West Texas. He is currently a member of the Iraan Archeological Society and the Southwest Federation of Archeological Societies (SWFAS). He has written several articles for Desert Tracks publications and SWFAS transactions over the years.
Meet C. A. Maedgen
C. A. Maedgen, a geologist, is also an amateur archeologist and photographer. He began taking photographs while stationed in Vietnam when he served there in the Air Force, and now focuses primarily on birds and wildlife.