The following completed exhibitions at Scottsdale’s Museum of the West played a significant role in the museum’s mission to immerse guests in the stories of the Greater Western region:

Will James, Young Cowboy, 1935, pen, ink, and watercolor; The Abe Hays Family Will James Collection.

Will James: Cowboy Artist and Author (May 7, 2019 – Aug. 18, 2019)

James (1892-1942) was a prolific Western artist, illustrator and writer who was best known as one of the greatest “action artists” of all time and as author of the award-winning book, “Smoky the Cowhorse,” which won the prestigious Newberry Medal for children’s literature and was made into three film adaptions. On loan from Paradise Valley resident and founding SMoW Trustee, Abe Hays, SMoW celebrates the return of this exhibition for an exclusive three-month showing. The Abe Hays Family Will James Collection is the largest and most comprehensive collection of James’ work in private hands. It features 80-plus original works of art, all 26 of his books and those illustrated by James for other authors; letters; photographs; posters; prints; and artifacts including his Winchester M1894 carbine rifle, pen knife, World War I dog tags and his saddle. James had 26 books published, and eight of them are also available for sale in SMoW’s Sue and Robert Karatz Museum Store.

Charles M. Russell: The Women in His Life and Art (November 20, 2018 – April 14, 2019)

Best known for his portrayals of the American West as a man’s world, Charles M. Russell (1864-1926) depicted a surprising number of women throughout his artistic career. While many of his images of women conform to the pervasive stereotypes and artistic trends of turn-of-the-century America, his representations were more nuanced and action-oriented than those of numerous contemporaries. Building off of the pioneering research of Ginger K. Renner, the exhibition will include 60 works in oil, watercolor, pen and ink, and bronze that span Russell’s career from 1890 to 1926, plus several additional works by notable artists.

Confluence of Cultures in the American West: A Selection of Contemporary Artists (January 15, 2015 – January 13, 2019)

The stories of friendship, tension, and conflict that arose during cultural contact in the history of the American West are explored through artwork that depicts mountain men, Native Americans, buffalo, cavalry, and settlers. The exhibition included especially commissioned and never-before-seen paintings by artists Andrew Bolam and John Moyers, as well as contemporary bronzes by Greg Woodard and Michael Coleman.

Many Western artists have been attracted to this period of American history because of its confluence of diverse cultures. This exhibition explored how contemporary artists have illustrated the lives, friendships, and clashes between cultures as they interacted with one another, and the various ways peoples’ lives were forever changed by these experiences.

New Acquisitions from the Herberger Collection
(September 11, 2018 – December 16, 2018)

This special tribute exhibition featured a recent gift to the museum from longtime Arizona leader and philanthropist, Jeanne L. Herberger, Ph.D., in loving memory of Gary Kierland Herberger.

A Spotlight on Contemporary Hopi Ceramicists and Katsina Doll Carvers
(February 13, 2018 – November 25, 2018)

On exhibit for the first time, this exhibition showcased the remarkable artistry detailed in 59 ceramics and 11 katsina dolls by some of the most outstanding contemporary Hopi artists. Featured were award-winning pieces such as an appliquéd turtle jar, a seed pot, and a solstice jar.

Western Edge: Humor and Playfulness in Contemporary Western Art (January 9, 2018 – September 9, 2018)

Presented in partnership with the Scottsdale Gallery Association, this exhibition featured a selection of emerging artists of the Greater Western region who are pushing the boundaries of contemporary art.

The Scottsdale Craftsmen: A 70-Year Legacy (December 20, 2016 – February 11, 2018)

This exhibition celebrated the historic Arizona Craftsmen Center (1946-1950), and its significant role in the emergence of postwar Scottsdale’s cultural identity. Featured artwork showcased the diverse talents of the center’s artists and craftspeople who were the catalyst for establishing the downtown area of the city as an arts epicenter in the American Southwest.

Marjorie Thomas: Arizona Art Pioneer (December 20, 2016 – January 7, 2018)

This exhibition featured more than 40 artworks by trailblazer, artist and early Scottsdale resident Marjorie Thomas, whose life and career link the chronicled of Arizona’s art and history. Her drawings and paintings portray desert landscapes, Native peoples and ranch scenes, often including imagery of the donkeys, horses and sheep that played an integral role in the region’s early history.

Grand Canyon Grandeur (June 6, 2017 – December 31, 2017)

This exhibition, which was on loan from The A.P. Hays Collection, featured 100 striking and historically important portrayals of one of the world’s most revered natural wonders. Oil paintings, watercolors and prints dating from the 1850s to the 1950s depicted the ecological, sociological and visual diversity of the Grand Canyon, while showcasing a range of artistic styles such as naturalism, impressionism, and abstraction. Thomas Moran, Eanger Irving Couse, Gustave Baumann and Gunnar Widforss were among the celebrated artists included in this exhibition.

A Spotlight on Contemporary Hopi Ceramicists and Katsina Doll Carvers (February 13, 2018 – November 25, 2018)

On exhibit for the first time, this exhibition showcased the remarkable artistry detailed in 59 ceramics and 11 katsina dolls by some of the most outstanding contemporary Hopi artists. Featured are award-winning pieces such as an appliquéd turtle jar, a seed pot, and a solstice jar.

The Rennard Strickland Collection of Western Film History (June 20, 2017 – September 23, 2018)

This inaugural exhibition featured 118 western film posters and lobby cards dating from the 1890s to the mid-1980s, curated from one of the world’s largest—and most historically important and inclusive—collections of western film graphic arts. The first of many planned exhibitions featuring posters and objects from the collection, it celebrated the American West, cowboys, Native Americans, the history of the movie industry, and the power of the West’s cultural legacies. It also paid tribute to Rennard Strickland (Osage/Cherokee), whose collection of more than 5,000 items was acquired in late 2016 in an education and community partnership between Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West and the Arizona State University Foundation.

  • John Coleman, "First Chief," 2016, oil on canvas; Collection of John and Sue Coleman. Photo by John Coleman.

John Coleman: Past/Present/Future (September 17, 2016 – May 31, 2017)

This exhibition, made possible by Frankie and Howard Alper, provided an unparalleled opportunity to examine the career of pioneering painter, sculptor and influential teacher, John Coleman. It included artworks spanning more than four decades in charcoal, graphite, oil and bronze. Coleman is an award-winning member of the Cowboy Artists of America, a Fellow Member of the National Sculpture Society and a Signature Member of the California Art Club.

  • Ernest L. Blumenschein (1874-1960), "The Chief Speaks," 1917, oil on canvas; Private Collection, photograph courtesy Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, N.M.

The Taos Society of Artists (January 10, 2017 – April 30, 2017)

This major exhibition, sponsored by Scottsdale Art Auction, highlighted the important artwork and careers of the Taos Society of Artists (founded in 1915). It featured a selection of these 19 iconic artists’ finest and most valued works of art, on loan from institutions across the country, as well as private collections.

The members and associate members of the Taos Society of Artists shared a love of the regional location, local color and local people, especially the Hispanic and Pueblo Native American communities. Their paintings were characterized by dramatic landscapes, brilliant lighting, indigenous peoples and modernist techniques. The group’s groundbreaking artworks gave rise to a major school of American painting.

Will James: Cowboy Artist and Author (January 15, 2015 – December 2016)

Illustrations by the prolific writer and artist Will James (1892-1942), who at age 15 left his home near Montreal, Canada to work for large and small cattle outfits in the American West. James wrote and illustrated more than 24 books and numerous magazine articles; he is perhaps best known for his award-winning book “Smoky the Cowhorse.”

Charles Fritz, The Captains Lewis and Clark-Trusted Leaders, Loyal Friends oil on canvas, Courtesy the Peterson Collection.

Charles Fritz, The Captains Lewis and Clark-Trusted Leaders, Loyal Friends, oil on canvas; Courtesy the Peterson Family Collection.

Inspirational Journey: The Story of Lewis and Clark (January 15, 2015 – October 30, 2016)

Contemporary painter Charles Fritz chronicled the historic early 19th century expedition of Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in a dynamic series of 100 paintings that were accompanied by sculptural bronzes by artists including Barry Eisenach, Richard Greeves, and Harry Jackson. Interactive audio/video kiosks featured commentary by Fritz on his work.

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Lone Wolf (Hart M. Schultz), Starting on a Wild Horse Hunt, 1915, oil on canvas; Courtesy the Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Anna R. and Frank M. Hall Collection.

Lone Wolf (Hart M. Schultz): Cowboy, Actor & Artist (June 21, 2016 – Aug. 31, 2016)

This retrospective highlighted the compelling career and artwork of Lone Wolf (aka Hart M. Schultz), who bridged the diverse cultures of the Old and New West. The exhibition featured a selection of the artist’s paintings, sculptures, illustrated books and ephemera that illuminated his contributions as a contemporary Blackfeet Indian artist. It also discussed his significant role in capturing the accounts of the individuals and events that shaped the American frontier during the first half of the 20th century.

CAA-50th-Anniv-dark_forwebA Salute to Cowboy Artists of America and a Patron, the Late Eddie Basha: 50 Years of Amazing Contributions to the American West (Nov. 7, 2015 – May 31, 2016)

Since its founding by four prominent Arizona artists, Cowboy Artists of America (CAA) has been recognized as one of the most influential artists’ groups in the nation’s history. This retrospective featured more than 90 paintings and sculptures by the 77 artists who have been CAA members during the past 50 years, and showcased their contributions to both fine art and western culture. The exhibition also paid tribute to renowned Arizona businessman and community leader, the late Eddie Basha, whose legacy includes one of the largest private collections of contemporary Western American and American Indian art in the world.

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John Coleman, Iron Sharpens Iron, 2008, bronze; On loan from the Collection of Frankie and Howard Alper.

Process and Materiality: The Bronze Artistry of John Coleman with Erik Petersen (Jan. 15, 2015 – Oct. 11, 2015)

Majestic sculptures in bronze by this highly regarded western artist, accompanied by photographs revealing the fascinating and complex process by which Coleman creates his work, including the contribution of artist Erik Petersen.

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William R. Leigh, Grand Canyon, 1909, oil on canvas; Courtesy Gerald Peters Gallery.

Fine Art of the American West: People and Places (Jan. 15, 2015 – Oct. 11, 2015)

A diverse and engaging selection of works by artists such as Charles Bird King, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles M. Russell, W. Herbert Dunton, Fritz Scholder, William R. Leigh, Ed Mell, Allan Houser, Kate T. Cory and Marjorie Thomas showcased the rich variety of themes, styles and imagery in western art.