The National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration Inc. is an organization that strives to preserve the heritage of cowboy culture. To do that, the organization hosts a National Cowboy Symposium every year in September.
But, preservation goes far beyond lectures and history lessons.The Symposium also provides spectators with tangible art to better appreciate the beauty of the form. Many vendors were set up from Friday, Sept. 8, to Sunday, Sept. 10, at the Symposium this year to appeal to established buyers as well as catch the eye of younger audience members.
Joepaul Meyers, an artist at the Symposium, is a blacksmith at Ironhorse Forge, located in Gainesville. Meyers said he creates pieces that are practical and durable; by ensuring his artistry is of high quality, he allows for his products to be passed down through the generations.
“I love metal. I love the fact that you can take something raw and turn it into art with fire and a little hard work,” he said.
Meyers also said tangible objects help preserve heritage and educate future generations just as much as words do. Cowboy culture is fading slowly, and Meyers said he strives to preserve his own cowboy culture as well as his Native American culture.
Jared Coffelt, a craftsman at Flint Boot & Hat Shop, located in Lubbock, was another craftsman exhibiting his work at the Symposium. He said he grew up embracing the culture of the West, but as he got older his involvement in farming and ranching was put to the side because of the obligations of adulthood. Being a craftsman has allowed him to maintain some roots to the cowboy heritage.
“Most of our customers are working cowboys, living the culture” he said. “We help provide them with a piece of that (cowboy culture) they might forget in the everyday by providing them with a product produced in the traditional way.”
Events like the Cowboy Symposium forge a community and family across the nation, Coffelt said. There are elements of Wild West culture and cowboys everywhere.
Jenz Yoder, an artist at Hidden Wall Art, located in Amarillo, said that while the subject of his work is not conventional Western, his portrayal of Western mediums embodies the culture.
Yoder’s drawings are inspired from nature and through everyday sightings. Vintage metals and authentic pieces of wooden crates are repurposed to provide history in a new work, Yoder said. His audience will see a new and modern display made from mediums that have rustic character.
“I love the Western culture. There is honesty and forthrightness about it,” he said. “I hope that my art can help preserve some of the culture people are forgetting.”