Barbara Van Cleve to Headline New Exhibition at the National Cowgirl Museum

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Barbara Van Cleve to Headline New Exhibition at the National Cowgirl Museum

“Pure Quill: Photographs by Barbara Van Cleve” opens Nov. 18 in Fort Worth, Texas

FORT WORTH, TEXAS (November 3, 2016) – The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring women of the American West who have displayed extraordinary courage in their trailblazing efforts – is pleased to welcome a temporary exhibit by 1995 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honoree Barbara Van Cleve titled “Pure Quill: Photographs by Barbara Van Cleve.” The exhibition of over 65 stunning black and white photographs associated with Western life will be available for public viewing Nov. 18, 2016-May 7, 2017 in the Museum’s Anne W. Marion Gallery.

Many people are familiar with Van Cleve’s work from her 1995 book “Hard Twist: Western Ranch Women,” which was also an exhibition at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in 2012 and 2014. In the “Pure Quill” exhibit, visitors will experience the other themes she addresses, including her Rodeo as Dance series, her striking portraits using the moon and stars as a light source, and her documentation of the Spanish Mission Trail in Baja, California, which she has recorded over more than two decades. Van Cleve has chosen to tell her stories in the exhibit through black-and-white photographs whose subtle values speak to the mind, heart, and soul.

“Black and white is such an intellectual medium, with lines that allow the eye to travel beyond the frame and value gradations that engage the imagination and stimulate the memory,” said Van Cleve. “Just give me my horse and saddle, some great open country, cattle, and working cattle people, and I’ll do my work quietly, in all conditions, from pure perfection to rain, mud, dust, and freezing blizzards.”

“Van Cleve’s title, ‘Pure Quill’ precisely captures her work” said Dr. Diana Vela, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Associate Executive Director, Exhibits and Education. “You know you are looking at authenticity when you are look at her photographs.”

Van Cleve is nationally known for her photographs of western landscapes, ranchers, cowboys and cattle women. Her heritage is rich with firsthand experience of the cowgirl life. She grew up on her family’s ranch, the Lazy K Bar, founded in 1880 in the Crazy Mountains of Montana. Her first camera was a “Brownie Box,” given to her at age 11 along with a developing kit. Her childhood was spent working and experiencing life on the ranch in the American West while cultivating her inter­est in photography. She taught English Literature and Photography at DePaul University in Chicago, and then became the youngest Dean of Women in the United States. She retired from academia in 1980 to pursue photography full time and had her first major exhibition in the fall of 1985. Her work is in public and private collections in the United States as well as internationally.

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About the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors and celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience and independence that helped shape the American West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire. The Hall of Fame’s purpose is twofold: to preserve the history and impact of Western women living from the mid-1800s to present day, and to foster an appreciation for their ideals and spirit of self-reliance. These women are the legacy of legends — artists and writers, champions and competitive performers, contributors to the cowgirl legacy, entertainers, ranchers (stewards of land and livestock) and trailblazers and pioneers. The Museum is considered an invaluable national educational resource for its exhibits, research library, rare photograph collection and award-winning distance-learning programs for grades K-12 and adults.

Located at 1720 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76107, the Cowgirl is open Monday (Memorial Day to Labor Day) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $8 for children ages 3 to 12 and senior citizens (60+) and $10 for adults (ages 13+). For more information, please visit or call 817-476-FAME (3263).


Tara Trask