America’s premier Western museum, the Oklahoma City-based National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, is celebrating its golden anniversary with the announcement of its Western Heritage Award winners. The awards honor works in literature, music, film, and television reflecting the significant stories of the American West. The 50th Anniversary of the Western Heritage Awards will be celebrated at a black-tie banquet April 16.
Each honoree receives a Wrangler, an impressive bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback. Awards presented in 2011 are for works completed in 2010. Qualified professionals outside the museum staff judge all categories.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s big-screen re-adaptation of “True Grit” has won the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Theatrical Motion Picture. The second film version of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel was nominated for 10 Oscars, including best picture, though it didn’t emerge victorious at the Academy Awards.
The Western Heritage Awards are open to the public and reservations can be secured by calling (405) 478-2250, Ext. 219. Ticket prices for April 15′s Jingle-Jangle Mingle are $40 for nonmembers and $30 for museum members. The Western Heritage Awards banquet ticket prices are $175 for nonmembers and $145 for members. For more information, go to www.nationalcowboymuseum.com.
Read the complete list of 2011 Western Heritage Awards winners after the break.
2011 Western Heritage Awards
There are seven categories in the literary competition. They include Western novel, nonfiction book, art book, photography book, juvenile book, magazine article and poetry book.
The Outstanding Western Novel is “Impatient with Desire” by Gabrielle Burton and published by Hyperion Books. A novel based on the Donner Party—a group of more than 80 pioneers who were snowbound in 1846 in the Sierra-Nevada Mountains, during which some of them resorted to cannibalism—is narrated through the hauntingly imagined journal entries and letters of Tamsen Donner. Donner, her husband, George, their five daughters, along with the other pioneers headed to California on the California-Oregon Trail in eager anticipation of new lives out West. Everything that could go wrong did, and an American legend was born.
Will Bagley takes the Wrangler for Outstanding Nonfiction Book for “So Rugged and Mountainous: Blazing the Trail to Oregon and California 1812-1848,” published by University of Oklahoma Press. Bagley crafts a sweeping narrative of a classic journey involving America’s westward migration. Over the course of three decades, almost a million eager fortune-hunters, pioneers, and visionaries transformed the face of a continent—and displaced its previous inhabitants. The people who made the long and perilous journey over the Oregon and California trails drove this swift and astonishing change. In this volume, Bagley tells why and how this massive emigration began. Illustrated with photographs and historical maps, “So Rugged and Mountainous” is the first of a projected four-volume history, “Overland West: The Story of the Oregon and California Trails.”
Robert Lougheed’s “Follow the Sun” lands the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Art Book. Written by Don Hedgpeth and published by Diamond Trail Press, the book focuses on the man behind Mobil Oil Company’s legendary flying Pegasus and the creator of numerous magazine covers familiar to a generation of readers. “Follow the Sun” is the first book to showcase the full breadth of Robert Lougheed’s artistic legacy. More than 400 full-color reproductions trace his trajectory from early Canadian studies of working horses to commercial work to Western scenes and timeless plein-air oils of European subjects. Hedgpeth makes clear why contemporary Western art owes a major debt of gratitude to Bob Lougheed. This book takes a long stride toward repaying that debt and introduces a remarkable artist to any who have not yet had the pleasure.
Kristina L. Southwell and John R. Lovett reveal the remarkable work of a pioneering woman photographer, earning them the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Photography Book. Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, “Life at the Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita Agency” captures the essence of a budding photographer in 1890 when Annette Ross Hume arrived home to her frontier village in Anadarko. Southwell and Lovett provide an illuminating biography of Hume, focusing on her life in Anadarko and the development of her photographic skills. Hume’s portraits of everyday life are unforgettable — images of Indian mothers with babies in cradleboards, tribal elders conducting council meetings, families receiving their issue of beef from the government agent, and men and women engaging in the popular pastime of gambling. The Annette Ross Hume collection has been a favorite of researchers for many years. Now this elegant volume makes Hume’s photographs more widely accessible, allowing a unique glimpse into a truly diverse American West.
“Off Like the Wind! The First Ride of the Pony Express” by Michael P. Spradlin is the Outstanding Juvenile Book. The novel, published by Walker & Company, a Division of Bloombury Publishing Inc., tells the story of the first Pony Express rider who set out on a trail from Missouri to California in 1860. With him, he carried a special delivery — the first mail ever carried by hand to the West. Over the next 11 days, he and many other riders would endure harsh weather, dangerous animals and more, but nothing would diminish their unflagging determination and courage. Meticulously researched and gorgeously illustrated, Michael P. Spradlin and Layne Johnson’s Off Like the Wind! brings to life an adventurous journey, full of suspense and excitement that celebrates America’s can-do attitude and pioneering spirit.
Writer Frederick J. Chiaventone takes top honors for Outstanding Magazine Article with “Taking Stock of the Pony Express,” published in Wild West Magazine/Weider History Group. Chiaventone is a former Army officer and author of the Wrangler-winning novel “Moon of Bitter Creek.” His Wild West article on “Taking Stock of the Pony Express” was written to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the short-lived but legendary Pony Express horseback mail service.
The Outstanding Poetry book winner is “Spare Parts” by Ken Hada and published by Mongrel Empire Press. “These poems, acting as spare parts in themselves, go into the making of one smooth-running, powerful engine,” said Diane Glancy, renowned author. Hada is a fourth-generation Oklahoman and professor at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, where he teaches American literature and courses in the humanities.
The Western Heritage Music competition includes three music categories: new artist, original composition and traditional Western album. This year, awards are being presented in two categories.
“Shortgrass” by R.W. Hampton, produced by Joe DiBlasi and Gary Bright, wins for Outstanding Original Composition. Off the Cimarron Sounds album “Austin to Boston,” “Shortgrass” was written as a tribute to Hampton’s son Cooper (and Cooper’s best friend, Dawson) who joined the Marines while in high school. The two buddies have now traveled the world, and their service to the United States has been honored in perpetuity by Hampton’s memorable song. Although what is considered the shortgrass country stretches from the Southern Rocky Mountains to Alberta, Canada, Hampton’s little Clearview Ranch is located at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a chain within the Rockies in Northeastern New Mexico. It is popular country for raising horses since it gets its name from the short, but potent, native grasses that are suited to the windy high desert region.
In the category for Outstanding Traditional Western Album, the top honors go to “Gillette Brothers – Cowboys, Minstrels and Medicine Shows,” recorded by the Gillette Brothers and produced by the Gillette Brothers and Craig Swancy. Recorded live at the Camp Street Café in Crockett, Texas, Guy and Pipp Gillette present 13 mostly old-time tunes featuring two tracks with Guy rattling bones. The rollicking CD is relaxing Western flavor honoring the slower paced life of the cowboy from the Old West. The award-winning duo plays cowboy music based on Celtic roots music, country blues, minstrel tunes and medicine show tunes in the style of the Old West.
Film and Television
Six categories comprise the film and television awards. They include theatrical motion picture, television feature film, docudrama, documentary, television news feature and fictional drama. This year, awards are being presented in only four categories.
The Outstanding Theatrical Motion Picture is “True Grit,” produced by the Coen brothers, Ethan and Joel, and also Scott Ruben. Steven Spielberg, A.C. Lyles and Paul Schwake were the executive producers on this film. This is the second adaptation of Charles Portis’ 1968 novel, which was previously adapted for film in 1969 starring John Wayne. Following the murder of her father by hired hand Tom Chaney, 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross sets out to capture the killer. To aid her, she hires the toughest U.S. Marshal she can find, a man with true grit, “Rooster” Cogburn. Against his wishes, she joins him in his trek into the Indian Nations in search of Chaney. They are joined by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf, who wants Chaney for his own purposes. The unlikely trio finds danger and surprises on the journey, and each has his or her “grit” tested. The film stars Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper.
In the category for Television Feature Film, the top honors go to “Temple Grandin,” produced by Scott Ferguson and directed by Mick Jackson. The idea for a biopic of Grandin originated with its executive producer Emily Gerson Saines, a successful talent agent and a co-founder of the nonprofit Autism Coalition for Research and Education. Claire Danes stars as Grandin, a woman with autism who revolutionized practices for the humane handling of livestock. Through mentoring and sheer will the young autistic woman succeeds against great odds. The made-for-TV biopic also stars Julia Ormond, Catherine O’Hara and David Strathairn.
“Wyatt Earp” is the Outstanding Documentary. Discover the true story of iconic Wild West lawman Wyatt Earp in the “American Experience” series. His reputation as a deadeye quick-draw cemented during the shootout at the O.K. Corral, Earp would later rise to the status of folk hero thanks for his tireless efforts in taming the west. But Earp wasn’t always the do-gooder the legends made him out to be. In this documentary, executive producer Mark Samels and producer Rob Rapley eschew the myth in favor of the man, tracing the troubled youth of a drifting opportunist who married young, then fell in with a lawless crowd following his wife’s untimely death. It was precisely those underworld ties, however, that helped to establish Earp’s credibility as a lawman, and led him straight to the 1881 gunfight that historians are still talking about today. Later, after avenging his brother’s death and fleeing to Los Angeles, Earp spent his last days searching for redemption and a means to reclaim his tarnished image.
Capturing the top spot for Fictional Drama is “Yella Fella & the Lady from Silver Gulch” directed by Norton Dill, produced by Slats Slaton and James Riley with executive producer Jimmy Rane. This short drama harkens back to the golden days of the Westerns. Jimmy Rane is Yella Fella and with the help of veteran Western movie stuntman Dean Smith they rescue the Sarah, a young lady held for ransom. With music from Grand Ole Opry members Riders In The Sky to enhance the motif, this short drama has an old Western message—that good triumphs over evil.
The 2011 Western Heritage Awards is sponsored by Conoco Phillips and Wrangler along with supporting sponsors Republic National Distributing Company and associate sponsor OKC Convention and Visitors Bureau. Additional support provided from Museum Partners Devon Energy Corporation, Chesapeake Energy Corporation and the E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation and Major Museum Support from The Oklahoman.