Southeastern Cowboy Gathering expected to draw 3,000 people over four-day event
by Marie Nesmith
Mar 08, 2011 | 3631 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Above, Greg Allen, left, and Sammy Hogan prepare the chuck wagon for competition at last year’s Southeastern Cowboy Gathering.
MATT SHINALL/The Daily Tribune News, File
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For Booth Western Art Museum Executive Director Seth Hopkins, the upcoming eighth annual Southeastern Cowboy Gathering is the ideal time for people to view the contrasting styles of Ed Mell and Ansel Adams.

Along with taking part in various scheduled activities, patrons are able to tour the artists' temporary exhibitions during the four-day event that starts Thursday. While Adam's photography exhibit draws to a close Sunday, Mell's 40 paintings and sculptures are being displayed in the temporary exhibition gallery Thursday through Aug. 21. Known for his landscapes and figurative subjects that feature components of abstraction and cubism, Mell -- the Southeastern Cowboy Gathering's featured artist -- will open the event with a reception Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m.

"Ed's work is pretty unique in Western art in that it is both realistic and modern at the same time and that's kind of a unique combination," Hopkins said, referring to Mell, who will deliver a lecture in the Booth Theatre Thursday at 7 p.m. and lead tours of his exhibit, "Ed Mell: New West Visionary," Friday at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. "He's able to blend realism with modern and create Western landscapes that are somewhat abstract and a lot of times they include things like thunderstorms or windstorms. They're just very vibrant and people really enjoy seeing them. We have one painting and one sculpture of his in our permanent collection. So a lot of times when we do these featured artists, it's an artist who has a pretty wide ranging variety of things that they do.

"Our audience knows their work from the one or two pieces that we have in our collection, but they're really not familiar with the whole range of their work. So by doing an exhibition and bringing them in as the featured artist for the weekend, we're able to really showcase all that they do and the range of their work as an artist. ... Ed's work is such an interesting contrast to Ansel Adams. They're both primarily landscape artists. So when you see Ed Mell's pretty angular, cubist modern landscapes versus Ansel Adams -- because the photograph is pretty realistic and what you see is what you get -- it really makes for a great contrast to walk through those two galleries, which are next to each other, and see how two artists have very different ideas about how to portray the Western landscape."

In addition to tours of the museum, the Southeastern Cowboy Gathering is featuring numerous activities that are designed to highlight the old West. The event's programs, such as cowboy poetry, Western concerts, a performance by featured entertainer Asleep at the Wheel, Dutch Oven Cooking Contest and children's activities, are going to be conducted inside and on the grounds of the Booth museum, 501 Museum Drive in Cartersville, and the nearby Grand Theatre, 7 N. Wall St.

"The purpose of the gathering is similar to our symposium, which are our two big events we do in October and March," Hopkins said. "In both cases we try to do a four-day cultural festival that brings in things we don't normally do -- music, cowboy poetry, in the case of the gathering, the chuck wagon cooking, the Dutch oven cooking, the music contests, the youth poetry contests. All those things [are important] to expose people to a wider variety of Western arts in a bigger sense. Not just painting and sculpture that we do all the time but music and poetry and performing arts and culinary arts and all of those things, so that people get immersed over that weekend in those things.

"Our hope is it gives them a greater appreciation for our whole Western history and kind of brings to life the artwork in the museum. When you look at a painting of a chuck wagon and you've actually been out and seen one and seen what they do and have tasted their food, you have a greater appreciation for that painting on an ongoing basis."

The Southeastern Cowboy Gathering also provides patrons with a final opportunity to view "Ansel Adams: A Legacy." Due to the exhibit's popularity, Hopkins expects the event's four-day attendance to increase by 500 people, topping 3,000 guests this year. Originally set to close in late February, the Booth extended the majority of the exhibition's images -- about 90 of the collection's 130 prints -- through this weekend.

Open since Sept. 25, the images provide guests an immersive and intimate look into the late American photographer's career. Known for his groundbreaking printing techniques and landscapes of the West, Adams selected a wide range of subject matter for "A Legacy." The images, which range from landscapes and still lifes to portraits and cityscapes, showcase original black-and-white photographs that Adams captured from the 1920s to 1980s. Hand printed by Adams in his California darkroom, the photographs are displayed in the size that he intended for them to be viewed.

To help enhance the exhibit, the Booth also incorporates various educational components into the offering, such as a video of Adams and a darkroom replica.

"In addition to getting to sample some great chuck wagon food and Dutch oven cooking and listen to cowboy poetry and the musical competitions, they're still going to have that opportunity to view those fabulous images in 'Ansel Adams: A Legacy,' including some of his most famous of all time," said Tara Currier, the museum's director of marketing. "So we're really excited to be able to continue to [offer this] through this weekend. It's been just incredible to see [the public's response]. People are just filing in through the doors, which has been fabulous to see. They're going up right to the front desk when they enter the museum, paying admission [and asking] 'Where's Ansel Adams?' ... Almost at every photograph, there's someone standing in front of it and looking at the beautiful works that Ansel created and reading those text panels.

"Also in the gallery that we still have open, our curator did a fabulous job of doing a recreation or replica of a 20th-century darkroom, which was very similar to what Ansel Adams would have used. So it's crowded. People are in there reading about his process and his dodging and burning techniques that he created. And we also have that large walk-in camera structure that actually has footage of Ansel Adams talking in his own words about the process in his darkroom. There's one bench in there but I've been up several times when there's 30 or 40 people just piled in there, because it really gives a great overview of what you're looking at and being able to understand what you're looking at in the darkroom replica and of course understanding and appreciating those wonderful photographs."

For a complete schedule of the Southeastern Cowboy Gathering and event fees, call 770-387-1300 or view