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The Briscoe Celebrates its 10th with A New Book: ‘The West Starts Here’


The Briscoe Western Art Museum is celebrating its 10th anniversary by showcasing its permanent collection in a new publication, The West Starts Here: A Decade at the Briscoe.

A captivating exploration of the iconic beauty and spirit of the American West shared through Western art, The West Starts Here documents both historical and contemporary works that form the basis of the museum’s growing collection. The book premieres at the museum’s signature event, the  2024 Night of Artists Exhibition and Sale, March 22-23, and will be available for purchase both in-person and online.

With a title that refers to San Antonio’s location on the 98th meridian and the start of the American West, this is a visually stunning, large-format, limited-edition 212-page book. It will be available in both hardcover and softcover formats and features 50 of the Briscoe’s most iconic works.

Documenting and detailing each art and artifact included, the book shares works that represent the pillars of Western art — cowboys, Native Americans, the landscape, animals and plants that define the West, and in a nod to the Briscoe’s South Texas home, vaqueros.

“We couldn’t imagine a better title to mark our first 10 years than The West Starts Here,” explained Liz Jackson, president and CEO of the museum. “A variety of cities claim to be the birthplace of the West, but without San Antonio and South Texas, the West as we know it wouldn’t exist. We’re proud to showcase the myriad of influences on the West, all from the heart of San Antonio.”

Kathryn Woodman Leighton, The Sioux Fire Maker

Artifacts featured include “Dress Sword for the Mexican President, 1852,” made by Ames Manufacturing Company and presented to General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Two artifacts showcase the Briscoe’s Native American collection:  “Men’s Ceremonial War Shirt, c. 1890s,” a Blackfoot War Shirt made with commercial hide, dye, sinew, feathers, ermine, red trade cloth, rooster hackles, trade beads and cowrie shells; and a Sioux/Lakota dress, “Beaded and Fringed Dress, c. 1895.”

“The Briscoe is a relatively young museum, but we’re incredibly proud of our collection — and how it’s growing,” Jackson added. “The West Starts Here provides a glimpse into the vast representations of the West featured in the Briscoe’s collection.

“Blending a mix of historical and contemporary portrayals, the book presents a unique perspective into the collecting initiatives of the Briscoe during our first 10 years, The featured works share a thread of rich tradition and heritage, demonstrating the relevance of both the Briscoe and our mission to preserve and present the art, history and culture of the American West. These works provide the foundation of our collection — and guide our efforts as we continue to share this uniquely American story through our collection, exhibitions and programming.”

Reading the book, the inspiration for the Briscoe’s exhibitions and programming is evident. Western Pop: Andy Warhol & Billy Schenck, the Briscoe’s popular touring exhibition that the museum featured in 2018, highlights two of the artists in The West Starts Here, while the Briscoe’s summer exhibition, Survival of the Fittest: Envisioning Wildlife and Wilderness with the Big Four, Masterworks from the Rijksmuseum Twenthe and the National Museum of Wildlife Art includes Carl Rungius.

The West Starts Here also features six museum works that were acquired through the museum’s signature annual event, Night of Artists, as well as a look into the museum’s history. The Briscoe’s historic home began as the San Antonio Public Library in 1929, while the land that the museum sits on was used on cattle drives to pen cattle on the bank of the San Antonio River as the drives moved north through the city.

To showcase the works and their impact, the book features community perspectives including famed cowboy poet Red Steagall, U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett, artist and Institute of American Indian Arts trustee Brenda Kingery and Dolph Briscoe IV, Ph.D., Briscoe Western Art Museum board member and grandson of the museum’s namesakes, Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. and his wife, Janey Slaughter Briscoe. The book also includes “Procession,” a poem by Carmen Tafolla, the 2015 Poet Laureate of Texas, inspired by Paul Moore’s sculpture, “The Procession, 2018”, the 2020 Night of Artists Museum Purchase Award.

The West Starts Here was completed by the Briscoe’s staff, including former President and CEO Michael Duchemin, Ph.D., and curator Emily Crawford Wilson, as well as Briscoe docent Judith Berg Sobre, Ph.D. The hardcover version retails for $50, while the softcover is $35. The books will be available March 22 in the Briscoe’s Hendler Family Museum Store online or by calling 210.299.4499.

Feature photo: Fandango by unknown artist.