Saddle Up Cowboy!
An Exhibition Presented by The Bryan Museum
No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. -Winston Churchill
The Western Saddle was more important to the cowhand than his horse. Horses could be supplied by the outfit that hired him, but his saddle was his own property. A saddle might cost a month’s wages but lasted a lifetime. The Bryan Museum will feature a stunning display of rarely seen saddles, paintings, and cowboy memorabilia from its collection in Saddle Up Cowboy, an exhibition opening on October 17, 2020.
Saddle Up Cowboy embraces the connection between the real-life cowboy, including the Mexican Vaquero, and the cowboy fantasy popularized by Hollywood heroes. Working saddles contrast with paintings depicting the cowboy that fueled the 20th-century popular imagination that longed for a bygone era and a life of excitement and adventure. The cowboy of popular culture became the West as we wanted it to be – in art, in books, in movies. Saddle up, Cowboy! is a tribute to the many facets of this culture.
The exhibition will feature over a dozen saddles displaying a variety of styles and types dating from 1850 to the 1981 saddle made for Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo by Jesus Mejia Olea. All represent exceptional examples of leatherwork, silver craft, and some are embellished with the Mexican embroidered art form known as Piteado. The show highlights saddlemaker to the stars, Edward Bohlin, whose saddles and style are recognizable from the many western movie heroes who rode them, including the Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry.
Another featured saddle maker is Houston and Galveston’s own Stelzig Saddlery. A restored, life-size horse display, used in the Houston Stelzig store for a hundred years, will showcase a stunning Stelzig black and silver saddle and full tack set. This Stelzig horse is an incredible piece of Texana recently donated to the Bryan Museum by the Stelzig family. Returned to its former glory, decked out with magnificent gear, this Stelzig display will greet visitors as they enter the Museum lobby. Other industry legends whose saddles will be featured are Frank Meanea of Cheyenne, WY, and Mueller of Denver, CO.