Diamond in the Rough

The Joslyn Art Museum in downtown Omaha, Nebraska was a real jewel of a find for this Western art lover. I recently had the pleasure of attending my granddaughter’s college graduation there, but never having visited the area before, I really had no idea that this little treasure even existed.

The art museum is world class and renowned for the large collection of works by Karl Bodmer (a Swiss artist known for capturing the 19th century American West with accurate, detailed depictions), but the collection didn’t stop there. Works by George Catlin, Charles Russell, Alfred Bierstadt, Remington and others were on permanent display. These artists first fired my imagination and helped develop my lifelong fascination with the West. This is a level of artistry I can only aspire to.

I was delighted that the museum allowed non-flash photography, so here are a few photos of paintings that really caught my eye.



landscape painting

mountain man painting

stealing horses

So, would you ever consider a stop in Omaha to visit the Joslyn? I know I’d go back.

Home Sweet Home

Much of western art from the 19th and 20th centuries portrays the American West in a romantic and idealized style, often glossing over the harsh conditions of life. “Home Sweet Home” is an effort to frame the Native American woman in a realistic setting. Her lodge reflects the rough reality of outdoor living – no paradise, little comfort and the bare minimum shelter to survive in an unfriendly environment. The small size emphasizes the central theme – life is hard.

Gone is the romance. Remaining is the reality of a hard life.

Her pose shows her braced against the harsh cold. She is somber, almost fearful.

She might be waiting for the return of her husband, gone too long, on a hunt, a raid, or a vision quest. She may be wondering when she will eat again or when a son or daughter will return.

What do you think is happening when you look at her somber expression? Do her eyes mirror the actuality of her life?

Home Sweet Home

by Gale F. Trapp, 2012
Acrylic on hardboard, 5×9″
Sold – Prints available