Current Exhibitions

Portraits of the Gathering

January 22 - September 7, 2019
Opening Reception January 31, 2019

Wiegand Gallery

As we come together to celebrate 35 years of gathering in Elko, we honor and remember the individuals who have brought heart and soul to our community through their poetry, story, song and artistry. To shine a light on poets important to this artistic movement, we have invited photographer Kevin Martini-Fuller to curate downtown storefront and Wiegand Gallery exhibitions. For over three decades, Martini-Fuller has traveled to Elko to create portraits of cowboy poets, musicians and other special guests. Over the years he has photographed over 1,000 individual participants of the Gathering. Vintage videos and other memorabilia from the Western Folklife Center archives will add further dimension to this reflection on the Gathering’s artistic community.

Storefront View

Featured in storefront windows around downtown Elko and beyond are the portraits and poetry of 24 poets whose voices contributed to the early years and success of the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. As you walk, you can use your mobile device and scan a QR code to be taken to an online site to hear and learn more.

Summer 2019 guided Walking Tour Schedule:

Saturday, July 27th, 9:00 am
Saturday, August 10th, 9:00 am
Wednesday, August 21st, 5:30 pm

Tours will meet and begin outside of the Pioneer Saloon of the Folklife Center. We invite you to stroll the streets and meet these poets and their work with our volunteer guides.

A map for a self-guided walking tour is also available in the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop and at selected locations in downtown Elko.

I’ve Got Spurs

Frank Shultz spurs, photo by Brent Herridge

Frank Shultz spurs, photo by Brent Herridge

Wiegand Gallery
January 22 - September 7, 2019

Since the first Gathering in 1985, the makers of handcrafted horse and work gear have been an important part of the Gathering’s artistic community and have experienced a renaissance.

In 1992, through the vision and generosity of artist William Matthews, the Western Folklife Center launched a Contemporary Cowboy Gear Fund to build a collection reflecting the fine artistry and craftmanship flourishing in the American West. For this exhibition, spurs from our collection are displayed alongside other contemporary and historic examples. Plain and purely functional or highly ornate and showy, spurs enable the rider to ask a well-trained horse for a range of responses. Adding to the spur bling is neon signage recovered from the Silver Spur Motel in Reno, Nevada, on loan from the neon collection of Will Durham. Durham has been preserving Nevada's neon signs for over two decades and directs the Nevada Neon Project. Some spurs are available for purchase, benefiting the individual artist and the Western Folklife Center.

We thank our funders, including Western Folklife Center stakeholders.

In the Fireplace Nook

Plein air artist Ron Arthaud works from his home base in Tuscarora, Nevada, "…often…capturing the beauty in ordinary, discarded things: rusty cars, a broken down fence, the shadows cast from old pickets in the snow.” He says, “My goal is that the  “abstract” designs I paint retain the feeling of space, electricity, and interaction of the objects, and ultimately express a feeling of place.” 

During his training in art schools in Duluth and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Arthaud gravitated to the art of painting landscapes and a teacher encouraged him to “just go do it.”  So he did. Looking for a better landscape, he moved to Colorado, New Mexico, California, France – and a bit of time in Germany and Spain. Travel was great but as a landscape painter Arthaud wanted to settle in and really get to know one place. Word of mouth brought him to Tuscarora in 1994. Arthaud says, " Open space, quiet, four distinct seasons, few bugs and fleeting greens. I feel I am still beginning. Humbling, hard. Such light, the mass of the mountains, elusive and ever changing sagebrush, long shadows, and the undulating edge where sky meets mountain.  I am always challenged, never bored. Just beginning.  

The works in this dynamic exhibition may change, and all works are for purchase in the Western Folklife Center Gift Shop.

Something That a Cowboy Knows

Lower level, Western Folklife Center

The Western Folklife Center presents Something That a Cowboy Knows, a photographic essay by L.L. Griffin, Denver-area artist and photographer. Through her photographs, L.L. Griffin provides insight into the character and spirit of cowboy poets, singers and storytellers of the American West. Something That a Cowboy Knows first appeared at the Arvada Center and the Colorado Historical Society, and after traveling throughout the West, it was donated to the Folklife Center by Griffin to become part of the Western Folklife Center's permanent collection of exhibitions and artifacts. All photos by L.L. Griffin.

Banner image by Rorie Holford.