Acclaimed artist Lynda Lanker's singular take on a vanishing way of life — and the spirit and stories of the women who shaped it — comes to the Tyler Museum of Art as the next stop on the national tour of "Tough By Nature: Portraits of Cowgirls and Ranch Women of the American West."
This solo exhibition opens March 29 and continues through July 12 at the museum, 1300 S. Mahon Ave. on the Tyler Junior College.
"Tough By Nature" culminates a two-decade "labor of love" for Lanker, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, who grew up in Wichita, Kansas. An artistic journey that began at Wichita State University eventually led her to travel through 13 Western states, documenting the rich histories of more than 50 iconic women of the region through interviews, sketching, painting and photography.
"I undertook this project because the character of these women is right there on the surface, more so than anybody who's got layers and layers of urban culture" Lanker said in her artist's statement. "Their honesty was so genuine. Nothing to chip away. Just right there ready for me to express on paper, or canvas, or whatever. … I wanted to go deeper and show the true women instead of the stereotype."
The more than 40 portraits featured in "Tough By Nature" showcase the artist's versatility in capturing her subjects across a broad range of media, including charcoal and graphite drawings as well as stone and plate lithographs, acrylics, oil pastels and egg tempera. Text panels detailing the stories of the women portrayed accompany each of the works.
A fully-illustrated hardcover exhibition catalog, featuring contributions by the artist as well as Larry McMurtry, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Dr. Maya Angelou, will be available for purchase in the TMA Gift Shop.
The exhibition was organized by the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon in Eugene, where it premiered in 2012, and is toured nationwide by Landau Traveling Exhibitions of Los Angeles. Local support is provided by Collectors' Circle-Gold Sponsors June and Steve Hillis, Sara Simons, and Agnes and Frank Ward.
The artist will be on hand to offer insights into her work during the exhibition's Members' Preview Reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. March 28.
Exhibition admission is free for TMA members, $5 for adults and $3 for seniors. Students, children under 12, and TJC faculty and staff are admitted free.
Special events in connection with "Tough By Nature" include a special viewing for TMA Young Professionals members from 5:30 to7 p.m. April 2; Family Days from 2 to 4 p.m. April 11, May 9, June 13 and July 11; and free First Friday Seniors' Day tours at 11 a.m. April 3, May 1 and June 5.
Regular museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Jon Perry is the communications coordinator for Tyler Museum of Art.