The Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio

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One of our San Antonio experiences merits special mention. On the Riverwalk, opposite the side closest to the Alamo, we found the Briscoe Western Art Museum. Not (previously) being particular fans of Western American art, we wouldn’t have visited, but we noticed a Free Admission Tuesday Nights at the Briscoe banner and made plans to return the next evening. We’re glad we did.

The Briscoe is a small, manageable museum on three floors. Named in honor of the late Texas Governor, Dolph Briscoe (we love that name), this wonderful little museum preserves the art, history, and culture of the American West. We’ve learned that art is more than just paintings and sculpture, like the beautiful stagecoach (the title picture of this article) and fascinating teepee on display. Even a display case of horse riding spurs (how much more “western” can you get than spurs?) shows off the artistry of those who cast these devices.

But here are a couple of the pieces that we really lingered around.

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Untitled bronze by James Nathan Muir, 1982. Two cowboys (or perhaps they’re outlaws?) ride their galloping steeds, side-by-side, guns blazing in opposite directions. Are they heading into danger, or are they fleeing to safety? Being untitled, Muir gives us no clue, but we know two things: the men’s targets surround them, and the pistol-wielding horseman is dead-eye intent on his target.


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“Sundown” Oil on canvas by John Moyers, 1999. A Native American astride his horse prepares to pull his red and white striped blanket over his shoulders as he gazes into a sunset: once the sun sets, he knows it will be cold. We can tell it’s only moments before the sun disappears as the horse’s legs and the bottom of his blanket are already in shadow. The emphasis of light versus dark, still in the sun and already shadowed, is remarkable.


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“Headin’ for the Gatherin'” Bronze by Rick Jackson. A cowboy is heading to a meeting at a slow, mesmerizing gait. It seems they both have had a hard day–hard lives, perhaps–as their backs are bent and the man rubs or braces his lower back. Whatever it is that must be decided at this gatherin’, it must be important to him.

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