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Feb 23rd
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Home Places to Visit Museums National Cowboy Museum Exhibit Features Mexican Cowboy, Equestrian Culture

National Cowboy Museum Exhibit Features Mexican Cowboy, Equestrian Culture

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The rich traditions and ornate craftsmanship associated with Mexican equestrian culture are the focus of an upcoming exhibition at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum® in Oklahoma City.

Ornate silverwork, elaborate embroidery and majestic saddles are just some of what visitors can see during "Arte en la Charrería: The Artisanship of Mexican Equestrian Culture," Oct. 10, 2009 through Jan. 3, 2010.

The "charro", or Mexican cowboy, is an important aspect of North American history. Men and women in La Charrería hold events similar to those in American rodeo, but beyond the fancy riding is the pageantry of their costumes and accessories.

Many traditions date back to the 16th century when Spanish settlers brought their ranching practices to the colonies. The gathering of cattle and horses often ended with celebrations attracting people from miles around.

At these festivities charros showed off their skills and competed with one another. The competitive horse events are called the "charreada" but the term "charrería" encompasses the entire culture of those events including the costumes, music and food.

"Charrería encompasses numerous traditions associated with the colorful charro, a legendary figure that has become the national symbol of Mexico," said Don Reeves, the Museum's McCasland Chair of Cowboy Culture. "Through this exhibition the National Cowboy Museum joins in the celebration of the 2010 Bicentennial of Mexico's independence from Spain and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution," he said.

Highlighted in the bilingual exhibit is detailed craftsmanship-whether represented in a sombrero, clothing, saddle, bits and spurs, or reatas. Suede riding pants and short jackets are decorated with metallic thread embroidery and silver buttons. Sombreros feature vivid colors and embellishments.

"The ornate treasures in this exhibition represent one of the most important charro collections in Mexico. Gumaro González of Nuevo Leon began collecting these items in the late 1800s, and we are thrilled his descendants are sharing these heirlooms with our Museum visitors," Reeves said.

Many of these spectacular items have never before been seen before and were borrowed specifically for this limited tour. "Arte en la Charrería: The Artisanship of Mexican Equestrian Culture" and its tour are organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C.

The National Cowboy Museum is the third stop on a schedule that presently includes seven North American destinations.

For an added treat, attend "Museum Fiesta!," Oct. 18, 2009 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This special day of activities celebrates the exhibition. Highlights will include a mariachi band, Mexican folk dancers, charro, guided tours of the exhibition and children's activities. Several other educational presentations are planned throughout autumn. More details are available on the Museum web site.

"Arte en la Charrería: The Artisanship of Mexican Equestrian Culture" is sponsored by Oklahoma Humanities Council, JP Morgan Chase, Oklahoma Arts Council and Kirkpatrick Family Fund with additional support from Museum Partners Devon Energy Corporation, Chesapeake Energy Corporation and the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation.

"This program is funded in part by the Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)."

For information about Arte en la Charrería, visit the Museum web site at
www.nationalcowboymuseum.org or call (405) 478-2250.

Founded in 1955, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City collects, preserves and exhibits an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts while sponsoring dynamic educational programs and ground-breaking scholarly research to stimulate interest in the enduring legacy of our American West.

More than 10 million visitors from around the world have sought out this unique museum to gain better understanding of the West: a region and a history that permeates our national culture.

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