Narrative art tells a story. It can either illustrate historic events or bring the imagination to life. It can be somber, humorous, didactic, or entertaining. The traditions of storytelling in the Southwest go back to ancient times and the indigenous populations of the region, and include themes such as satire, agriculture and ecology, everyday experiences, celebrations, grief, and local history. The West has held a special place in the American imagination since the earliest days of westward expansion, providing a canvas for the expression of the nation’s hopes, fears, and aspirations.
This exhibition explores the various ways artists have told stories about the Southwest in their work, including illustrations of historic events such as Diego Romero’s images of the Pueblo Revolt, and paintings of local religious ceremonies a la Henderson’s Holy Week in New Mexico, ruminations on spiritual traditions as in Partocinio Barela’s Last Supper, reflections on modern art, as shown by John Sloan or Gustave Baumann, Sloan’s and Gina Knee’s comical lampoons of contemporary society, or iconic images of the West inspired by pop culture, as seen in Dunton’s “Illustration for The Fair in the Cow Country" and Billy Schenck’s pop cowboys.