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DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

LLANO — When people walk out of the Western Trappings on the Llano exhibit at the Llano Historical Museum, event organizer Charles Wendt hopes they leave with one word on their mind.

“Wow,” he said. “When you look around here, everything is original. There are no reproductions. This show really highlights some of the best Western artists in the world.”

Western Trappings on the Llano opened in October and runs through Jan. 4, 2015. The museum is hosting an open house 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 6.

While the exhibit includes paintings and sculptures, Wendt pointed out that this is a Western trappings show, so it goes beyond what most people consider art.

“When I think of the word ‘trappings,’ it means all the things that a cowboy would wear and use,” Wendt said. “Those are a cowboy’s trappings.”

A carved Native American bust is part of the Western Trappings on the Llano art exhibit.
A carved Native American bust is part of the Western Trappings on the Llano art exhibit.

But, he explained, Western Trappings on the Llano isn’t just a cowboy art show.

“It’s anything Western,” Wendt said. “That includes pieces from Canada and Native American pieces.”

The exhibit even includes home decor and furniture, including a truly artistic table by Llano’s Lou Quallenberg .

Wendt has several pieces of his own on display. Though spurs and bits serve functional roles, even today, in the hands of a skilled craftsman, they also become works of art. Wendt, who owns Rocking W Spurs in Llano, painstakingly hand cut the details into the set of spurs and a bit on display.

“It’s all cut by hand,” he said. “Everything. There’s not machined pieces on it.”

A tour around the exhibit quickly reveals a beautiful Native American bust, an intricately hand-tooled saddle, exquisite paintings, a polar bear carving (made in a moose antler), a leather briefcase, a silver spoon and a hand-carved blanket. That’s right, there’s a mix-media blanket by Barry Bradley featuring a wood surface and steel but crafted in such a way it looks just like a woolen blanket complete with slight rolls in it as if somebody tossed it in the air.

This saddle and tack are on display at the Western Trappings on the Llano.
This saddle and tack are on display at the Western Trappings on the Llano.

On one wall, visitors will find what looks like a buffalo painting on a piece of wood.

“That’s not a painting,” Wendt said with a chuckle. “It’s a burning. I don’t know how she does it, but she burns the wood to make those.”

The artist, Kathleen Wilson of Johnson City, practices the art of pyrography, which translates into “fire drawing.” Instead of a paint brush, she uses an electric pen to create her pieces. But the detail is so precise, it’s hard to tell it’s a wood burning instead of a painting or pen drawing without a close inspection.

Or somebody like Wendt to educate you.

And that’s part of the reason for the exhibit, to introduce people to the many facets of the Western culture through its art.

The exhibit draws entries from three countries and 17 states and includes 126 pieces. As a juried show, artists submit samples of their work for review by a committee. Wendt said that, this year, they had roughly twice as many submissions that were accepted.

Visitors to the Llano Historical Museum can view Western art of all kinds during the Western Trappings on the Llano exhibit.
Visitors to the Llano Historical Museum can view Western art of all kinds during the Western Trappings on the Llano exhibit.

“This show is growing,” Wendt said. “Artists want to be in this show. It’s the largest Western trappings exhibit in Central Texas, and word is getting out to artists about it.”

And every piece in the exhibit is for sale with 100 percent of the purchase price going to the artist who created it. The Llano Historical Museum doesn’t take a cut.

As for the benefit to the museum, Wendt said he hopes people who come to the exhibit will also take the time to visit the rest of the museum and support it as well.

“But we also hope people buy the art,” Wendt added. “That’s another thing I hope they leave with.”

The Llano Historical Museum is located at 310 Bessemer (Texas 16) just north of the Llano River in Llano. The museum is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. Go to www.llanomuseum.org for more information on the museum and www.westerntrappings.com for more on the art exhibit.

daniel@thepicayune.com