Cowpokes in the Gallery

We love themes in the Family Experiences department of the DMA! Many of our programs are thematic and often revolve around one big idea. Dogs, flowers, dancing, and music are some recent themes from our programming. You may find us searching for dogs in paintings and then going to the C3 Studio to create our own dogs, blasting music in front of a painting of a musician before recording our own soundtracks in the galleries, or creating costumes to match some of our favorite dance-related works of art.

Clara McDonald Williamson, "Get Along Little Dogies," 1945

There are countless thematic connections that you could make with your family while visiting the Museum. A recent installation on the 4th floor landing would make a perfect family visit for one of my favorite themes: cowboys! The works of art in Cowboys: On the Range Between Art and Life include paintings, photographs, and works on paper and explore the different ways that artists have portrayed the cowboy. There are images of the land, working cowboys, cowboys at home on the range, cowboys having fun, and even some cowgirls.

Erwin E. Smith, "Four Cowpunchers Shooting Craps on a Saddle Blanket in Roundup Camp, JA Ranch, Texas 1908"

If you and your family like the idea of cowboys as a theme for your Museum visit, visit the installation and roundup some fun! Here are some ideas of things that you can do in the galleries and at home for a boot-slappin’ good time.

  • Make a cowboy or cowgirl vest using a paper grocery bag at home. Crumple the bag a bit before you begin to give it a rustic look. Use scissors to create fringe and add color with markers or crayons. Check out this website to learn how to cut the bag for a wearable vest.
  • Look at the works in Cowboys: On the Range Between Art and Life and make up a story to go along with one or more of the works. Give your child prompts to help her think of a cowboy/cowgirl adventure. Start with the story prompt below to get your child thinking of the type of adventure their cowboy could have. Look to several works in the installation for clues as to what the cowboy may encounter next.

Story prompt:

“Once upon a time there was a cowboy named _______ who lived in ________ with his wife named _________. One morning _______ (cowboy’s name) woke up and thought, “I need an adventure.” So he packed up his bags, said goodbye to _______ (wife’s name) and set off.”

  • Find a favorite work of art with a cowboy or cowgirl in it and have your child draw a picture of what that character may do next.
  • Study the clothing of the cowboys and use paper and pencil to help your child sketch the perfect cowboy outfit. Choose elements of various cowboy fashions seen in the works to create a unique look.
  • Visit your local library and check out cowboy-related books to follow-up with at home. You may want to check out Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett, Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman, or Cowboy Small by Lois Lensky.
  • Make some trail mix at home with your child and eat it as you continue to think of stories of the Old West together.

Giddy up and visit the Wild West at the DMA!

A little cowpoke at the DMA

Posted by: Amanda

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Filed under In the galleries, Just for Fun

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