"Art of the Western Saddle" Exhibit in AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum | TheFencePost.com

"Art of the Western Saddle" Exhibit in AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum

Lincoln Rogers
Parker, Colo.

Lincoln RogersThere are 16 beautiful saddles under plexiglass that comprise the Art of the Western Saddle exhibit at the AQHA HAll of Fame and Museum in Amarillo, Texas.

According to an old expression: “Everybody loves a parade!” If that is truly the case, then everybody should also love the current exhibit of beautiful silver parade saddles on temporary display at the AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum in Amarillo, Texas.

Running from Jan. 22-July 31, 2010, the north Texas museum offers fans of the West a one-of-a-kind chance to view 16 gorgeous Western saddles dating from the 1800s to the present. The exhibit is titled, “Art of the Western Saddle – A Celebration of Design, Style and Grace” and is based upon an award-winning book of the same name by William C. Reynolds, published in 2004.

“We’re always on the lookout for horse-themed things,” said Ross Middleton, director of the AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum since 2007. “And Mr. Reynolds had just written a book that won several publication awards. So I contacted him, asked if he would be interested in us and give us the OK to base an exhibit on his book. Just through those conversations we had, I made the decision to ask him to help me curate the exhibit.”

Including a rare and elegant Sherman Loomis saddle of the 1800s, a few gold and silver adorned Visalia Stock Saddle Company’s offerings and numerous highly detailed Edward H. Bohlin Company productions from the 1920s, the saddles in the exhibit are cumulatively valued in excess of $1 million. Despite the impressive figure, the financial amount is not the main draw; the exquisite beauty of every saddle is what captures a viewer’s attention.

“These are pieces of artwork,” described Middleton of the exhibit and the museum’s purpose for setting it up. “(One of our goals was) to be able to expose the museum’s community to art of a different style and type so we can broaden and enrich the art community. It is something interesting for our membership and our visitors that is unique, that you are not going to see if you went to a Smithsonian or if you went to some of the other major museums. There is not another (exhibit like this) going on right now. It is something that is art, but it’s still unique and it still supports the mission of the museum.”

Asked to choose a personal favorite from the 16, Middleton acknowledged the difficulty of the task, but managed to arrive at a conclusion.

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“My personal favorite is the Sherman Loomis saddle that belongs to the Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara,” he said with conviction. “Because of the quality of the craftsmanship and just the fact that it’s that old and that rare and it’s still just a superb example of the saddle maker’s art. That one’s really my favorite and really doesn’t have anything to do with silver or non-silver, it is just the quality of the craftsmanship that went into it. There are only six of those (Sherman Loomis) saddles that we know for sure where they are.”

The leather of each saddle in the exhibit is fully tooled, with most also bearing intricate silverwork hand-engraved and chased from horn to cantle to long tapaderos. Some adornments include gold and/or semi-precious stones. From movie stars to wealthy ranchers, the saddles were customized to fit their owners’ styles, interests and personalities. One saddle bore silver designs of numerous California Missions. Another showed off hand-chased silver and gold embellishments depicting the history of the oil industry. Suffice it to say, every piece is unique and worthy of long consideration from all sides and angles. It is that quality of workmanship and art that modern saddle makers strive to emulate and even surpass.

“They got it together pretty good,” praised Meeker, Colo., saddle maker Bob Klenda regarding the custom saddle producers of the past. Klenda has been crafting custom saddles since 1961, including the honor of being chosen to create one of four custom saddles commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Western Stock Show in 2005. “The placement of that silver, what they did with the silver, we have to commend them for their accomplishments,” Klenda added in a soft-spoken voice. “They did a good job of it.”

Asked regarding the time it takes to make a detailed custom saddle, Klenda was quick with a response.

“You can put 100 to 200 or more hours into just the carving,” he described of the labor-intensive process.

Add into the mix the richly detailed silver and gold work shown on each of the exhibit’s pieces and it becomes easier to understand how one of Edward H. Bohlin’s own personal saddles took over 13 years to fabricate. As noted in the official brochure, “the silver saddles Bohlin and other makers of the period produced would be almost impossible to produce today because of contemporary labor costs.”

Middleton sums it up best when he stated, “Man has always sought to adorn his possessions, whether modest or grand, in order to set himself apart from the crowd. That is the essence of the silver saddle, expressing the owner or maker’s desire to stand apart.”

The “Art of the Western Saddle – A Celebration of Design, Style and Grace” exhibit is on display through July 31, 2010. Make the effort to catch this one of a kind offering at the AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum to see up close and personal why “everybody loves a parade!”

According to an old expression: “Everybody loves a parade!” If that is truly the case, then everybody should also love the current exhibit of beautiful silver parade saddles on temporary display at the AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum in Amarillo, Texas.

Running from Jan. 22-July 31, 2010, the north Texas museum offers fans of the West a one-of-a-kind chance to view 16 gorgeous Western saddles dating from the 1800s to the present. The exhibit is titled, “Art of the Western Saddle – A Celebration of Design, Style and Grace” and is based upon an award-winning book of the same name by William C. Reynolds, published in 2004.

“We’re always on the lookout for horse-themed things,” said Ross Middleton, director of the AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum since 2007. “And Mr. Reynolds had just written a book that won several publication awards. So I contacted him, asked if he would be interested in us and give us the OK to base an exhibit on his book. Just through those conversations we had, I made the decision to ask him to help me curate the exhibit.”

Including a rare and elegant Sherman Loomis saddle of the 1800s, a few gold and silver adorned Visalia Stock Saddle Company’s offerings and numerous highly detailed Edward H. Bohlin Company productions from the 1920s, the saddles in the exhibit are cumulatively valued in excess of $1 million. Despite the impressive figure, the financial amount is not the main draw; the exquisite beauty of every saddle is what captures a viewer’s attention.

“These are pieces of artwork,” described Middleton of the exhibit and the museum’s purpose for setting it up. “(One of our goals was) to be able to expose the museum’s community to art of a different style and type so we can broaden and enrich the art community. It is something interesting for our membership and our visitors that is unique, that you are not going to see if you went to a Smithsonian or if you went to some of the other major museums. There is not another (exhibit like this) going on right now. It is something that is art, but it’s still unique and it still supports the mission of the museum.”

Asked to choose a personal favorite from the 16, Middleton acknowledged the difficulty of the task, but managed to arrive at a conclusion.

“My personal favorite is the Sherman Loomis saddle that belongs to the Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara,” he said with conviction. “Because of the quality of the craftsmanship and just the fact that it’s that old and that rare and it’s still just a superb example of the saddle maker’s art. That one’s really my favorite and really doesn’t have anything to do with silver or non-silver, it is just the quality of the craftsmanship that went into it. There are only six of those (Sherman Loomis) saddles that we know for sure where they are.”

The leather of each saddle in the exhibit is fully tooled, with most also bearing intricate silverwork hand-engraved and chased from horn to cantle to long tapaderos. Some adornments include gold and/or semi-precious stones. From movie stars to wealthy ranchers, the saddles were customized to fit their owners’ styles, interests and personalities. One saddle bore silver designs of numerous California Missions. Another showed off hand-chased silver and gold embellishments depicting the history of the oil industry. Suffice it to say, every piece is unique and worthy of long consideration from all sides and angles. It is that quality of workmanship and art that modern saddle makers strive to emulate and even surpass.

“They got it together pretty good,” praised Meeker, Colo., saddle maker Bob Klenda regarding the custom saddle producers of the past. Klenda has been crafting custom saddles since 1961, including the honor of being chosen to create one of four custom saddles commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Western Stock Show in 2005. “The placement of that silver, what they did with the silver, we have to commend them for their accomplishments,” Klenda added in a soft-spoken voice. “They did a good job of it.”

Asked regarding the time it takes to make a detailed custom saddle, Klenda was quick with a response.

“You can put 100 to 200 or more hours into just the carving,” he described of the labor-intensive process.

Add into the mix the richly detailed silver and gold work shown on each of the exhibit’s pieces and it becomes easier to understand how one of Edward H. Bohlin’s own personal saddles took over 13 years to fabricate. As noted in the official brochure, “the silver saddles Bohlin and other makers of the period produced would be almost impossible to produce today because of contemporary labor costs.”

Middleton sums it up best when he stated, “Man has always sought to adorn his possessions, whether modest or grand, in order to set himself apart from the crowd. That is the essence of the silver saddle, expressing the owner or maker’s desire to stand apart.”

The “Art of the Western Saddle – A Celebration of Design, Style and Grace” exhibit is on display through July 31, 2010. Make the effort to catch this one of a kind offering at the AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum to see up close and personal why “everybody loves a parade!”

According to an old expression: “Everybody loves a parade!” If that is truly the case, then everybody should also love the current exhibit of beautiful silver parade saddles on temporary display at the AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum in Amarillo, Texas.

Running from Jan. 22-July 31, 2010, the north Texas museum offers fans of the West a one-of-a-kind chance to view 16 gorgeous Western saddles dating from the 1800s to the present. The exhibit is titled, “Art of the Western Saddle – A Celebration of Design, Style and Grace” and is based upon an award-winning book of the same name by William C. Reynolds, published in 2004.

“We’re always on the lookout for horse-themed things,” said Ross Middleton, director of the AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum since 2007. “And Mr. Reynolds had just written a book that won several publication awards. So I contacted him, asked if he would be interested in us and give us the OK to base an exhibit on his book. Just through those conversations we had, I made the decision to ask him to help me curate the exhibit.”

Including a rare and elegant Sherman Loomis saddle of the 1800s, a few gold and silver adorned Visalia Stock Saddle Company’s offerings and numerous highly detailed Edward H. Bohlin Company productions from the 1920s, the saddles in the exhibit are cumulatively valued in excess of $1 million. Despite the impressive figure, the financial amount is not the main draw; the exquisite beauty of every saddle is what captures a viewer’s attention.

“These are pieces of artwork,” described Middleton of the exhibit and the museum’s purpose for setting it up. “(One of our goals was) to be able to expose the museum’s community to art of a different style and type so we can broaden and enrich the art community. It is something interesting for our membership and our visitors that is unique, that you are not going to see if you went to a Smithsonian or if you went to some of the other major museums. There is not another (exhibit like this) going on right now. It is something that is art, but it’s still unique and it still supports the mission of the museum.”

Asked to choose a personal favorite from the 16, Middleton acknowledged the difficulty of the task, but managed to arrive at a conclusion.

“My personal favorite is the Sherman Loomis saddle that belongs to the Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara,” he said with conviction. “Because of the quality of the craftsmanship and just the fact that it’s that old and that rare and it’s still just a superb example of the saddle maker’s art. That one’s really my favorite and really doesn’t have anything to do with silver or non-silver, it is just the quality of the craftsmanship that went into it. There are only six of those (Sherman Loomis) saddles that we know for sure where they are.”

The leather of each saddle in the exhibit is fully tooled, with most also bearing intricate silverwork hand-engraved and chased from horn to cantle to long tapaderos. Some adornments include gold and/or semi-precious stones. From movie stars to wealthy ranchers, the saddles were customized to fit their owners’ styles, interests and personalities. One saddle bore silver designs of numerous California Missions. Another showed off hand-chased silver and gold embellishments depicting the history of the oil industry. Suffice it to say, every piece is unique and worthy of long consideration from all sides and angles. It is that quality of workmanship and art that modern saddle makers strive to emulate and even surpass.

“They got it together pretty good,” praised Meeker, Colo., saddle maker Bob Klenda regarding the custom saddle producers of the past. Klenda has been crafting custom saddles since 1961, including the honor of being chosen to create one of four custom saddles commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Western Stock Show in 2005. “The placement of that silver, what they did with the silver, we have to commend them for their accomplishments,” Klenda added in a soft-spoken voice. “They did a good job of it.”

Asked regarding the time it takes to make a detailed custom saddle, Klenda was quick with a response.

“You can put 100 to 200 or more hours into just the carving,” he described of the labor-intensive process.

Add into the mix the richly detailed silver and gold work shown on each of the exhibit’s pieces and it becomes easier to understand how one of Edward H. Bohlin’s own personal saddles took over 13 years to fabricate. As noted in the official brochure, “the silver saddles Bohlin and other makers of the period produced would be almost impossible to produce today because of contemporary labor costs.”

Middleton sums it up best when he stated, “Man has always sought to adorn his possessions, whether modest or grand, in order to set himself apart from the crowd. That is the essence of the silver saddle, expressing the owner or maker’s desire to stand apart.”

The “Art of the Western Saddle – A Celebration of Design, Style and Grace” exhibit is on display through July 31, 2010. Make the effort to catch this one of a kind offering at the AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum to see up close and personal why “everybody loves a parade!”

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