Fort Worth Side Trip: Amon Carter Museum of American Art

The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is located outside of downtown Fort Worth, in its renowned cultural district. Here, you can tour collections full of American artworks from the Old West to the modern era. It has an impressive collection of Western memorabilia, including works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. I came here to tour the permanent collection and its special mezzanine of Western art.

 

We visited the gravity-defying building with its simple, minimalist courtyard, and entered to the front desk. Due to renovations, the second floor of the museum was closed off, but the staff told that since today was Valentine’s Day, they were holding a special activity; each of us were given a paper heart and we asked to set it down on our favorite artwork. A nice touch.

In the lobby is a great painting by Frederic Remington, “A Dash for the Timbers,” showing a posse of cowboys racing in a line pursued by a gang of Native Americans. On the wall to the side of this is “Swing Landscape” by Stuart Davis. It was commissioned by a division of FDR’s WPA (which made the San Antonio River Walk) during the Great Depression but was rejected for being too progressive. I guess they saw something offensive that I couldn’t, because I just see a rainbow of ladders and collages of mixed colors.

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In one of the side galleries, you can see various portraits made by Georgia O’Keeffe during her time in New Mexico. I consider her to be a key artist of the American West, so I’m glad there was a large amount there, including abstract portraits of adobe houses. Another pretty piece was “Grain Farm” by John Rogers Cox, an apocalyptic portrayal of the Indiana countryside showing a derelict Victorian mansion and a rusted-out piece of harvesting machinery amid a field of wheat stalks, golden with a streak of white on top of each. The level of detail is impeccable, a distinct white top of each grain, giving it a real sense of texture.

Up a staircase overlooking the lobby is the mezzanine, a concentration of the most “retro” of the collection’s American art depicting the Old West. There are pleasant bronze castings of cowboys and Native Americans, medicine men paintings and statuettes of warriors brandishing their most recent scalps. There were paintings from what I like to call the “Red Dead” era, that time when the frontier era was coming to an end and cowboys became a dying breed. Frederic Remington made frequent trips out to the west for research, and other artists show nighttime stagecoaches.

But my favorite one of all is “In Without Knocking,” an oil on canvas from 1909 by Charles M. Russell. The plaque reads “According to local legend, the cowboys in this scene were the artist’s fellow riders who decided one day to enliven the atmosphere around Stanford, Montana, by riding their horses into a saloon where they had been drinking.” The details are amazing on this one, from the shop signs to the dots on the fluttering playing cards. I would be remiss to not to put my heart in front of this; it was my personal favorite.

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The Amon Carter Museum is a nice place to spend an hour. Overall, I give it a great 4/5 Stars.

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