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Essential West Magazine

Exploring Art, Literature, History, Museums, Lifestyle, and Cultures of the West

It amazes me that four letters - W-E-S-T - have the ability to evoke an instantaneous emotional image. Simply the act of reading these four letters has caused you to form a narrative of your west.

Can the West be distilled to its essence - a simple direction or region? I believe not; it is a deeper dive of consciousness. How America sees itself and the world defines us. Diverse cultures, strong individualism, open spaces, and raw natural beauty marinated in a roughshod history have formed this region’s unique milieu.

Our online magazine’s primary focus is to feature relevant topics in art, literature, history, museums, lifestyle, and culture; lofty goals for any publication. No single magazine can be the beckon of all things western; it is a diverse, evolving paradigm that cannot be pigeonholed. As the publisher, I hope to be the buffalo that grazes the wide expanse of western sensibility and relay to you a glimpse of how I perceive our Essential West.

- Mark Sublette

Featured Article

See a Color Recording of...
See a Color Recording of Maria Martinez Making Pottery from 1952

You’ve seen Maria Martinez pottery. Everyone has seen Maria Martinez pottery. But you’ve likely never seen Maria Martinez making pottery. An astounding film from 1952 shows just that. Watch it here. Over more than 20 minutes, Martinez is seen undertaking almost every part of her ceramics process at the San Ildefonso Pueblo. In color! This is likely the...

New Deep Ellum Community Center...
New Deep Ellum Community Center in Dallas shares legacy of historic rail crossroads

  Guest enjoying an exhibition at Deep Ellum Community Center | Photo by Kevin Huckabee   In the shadow of Dallas’ downtown skyscrapers, a railroad crossroads tells a fascinating story. Many of them. When the Texas and Pacific line crossed the Houston and Texas Central in 1873, Deep Ellum was created. In those years, Dallas was a hub for the cotton industry and railroads brought cotton grown across the state to Big D for processing and distribution around the nation. What oil would become to Texas in the 20th century, cotton was in the 19th. The boll weevil put an end...

Sneak preview of Ken Burns'...
Sneak preview of Ken Burns' latest film: 'The American Buffalo

  Buffalo in Yellowstone National Park | Photo by Chadd Scott   The story of the buffalo is the story of America: colonialism, Manifest Destiny, expansion, wanton destruction, capitalism, industrialization, broken treaties, genocide, waste, resource extraction and exploitation, shortsightedness. The story of the buffalo is the next one famed documentarian Ken Burns tells when “The American Buffalo” premiers on PBS October 16 and 17, 2023. “Essential West” received an advance screening of the new two-part, four-hour film. It is a harrowing tale of America as death cult. “There is no story anywhere in world history that involves as large a...

Nancy Yaki found inspiration for...
Nancy Yaki found inspiration for award-winning painting while battling cancer

Nancy Yaki with 'Holding Stratus Pose, Tenaya Lake, (Yosemite)' (2023). Photo by George Rose     When Nancy Yaki visited Yosemite National Park for the first time, she was 12 weeks into weekly chemotherapy treatments. That was the summer of 2021; she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer earlier that year. Sick, weak, body full of toxins, Yaki managed to get her paddleboard into Tenaya Lake. “Water was something that I was just really craving, especially fresh water because of my experiences growing up on a lake in New England,” Yaki remembers. Her childhood lake was Manitook Lake in Connecticut. “Water...

James Prosek and the Texas...
James Prosek and the Texas Prairie at Amon Carter Museum of American Art

  Trespassers: James Prosek and the Texas Prairie" installation view at Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Credit: Amon Carter Museum of American Art     Grasslands and prairies don’t get the love of mountains or waterfalls or beaches. There’s no national park preserving a great native grass prairie drawing millions of tourists a year. No souvenir shops selling “the grasslands are calling, and I must go” doormats. No #prairielife hashtag racking up shares on social media. Maybe that’s because most people have never seen one. For the lucky few who have, they’ll tell you the waist-high grasses, the blooms, the innumerable...

Tony Abeyta honored as first...
Tony Abeyta honored as first Native American to receive U.S. Medal of Arts award

Tony Abeyta, 2021 (cropped)| Photo by Larry Price     On September 13, 2023, in a ceremony presided over by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden at the White House, Tony Abeyta (b. 1965, Gallup, New Mexico; Diné (Navajo)) became the first Native American honored as a U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts recipient. The Medal of Arts award was created by Art in Embassies, in partnership with the Secretary of State, in 2012 to formally acknowledge artists who have played an exemplary role in advancing the Department of State’s mission to promote cultural diplomacy. What has become the Art in...

Highlights of the Eiteljorg Museum's...
Highlights of the Eiteljorg Museum's Western Art galleries

  Thomas Hart Benton, Lewis and Clark at Eagle Creek, 1967. Collection of the Eiteljorg Museum | Photo by Chadd Scott     The first friendly face I see upon entering the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis is Bill Pickett’s. Bernard Williams’ Black Cowboy – Bill Pickett painting to be more precise. The five-foot portrait of a smiling Pickett placed just inside the entrance to the Eiteljorg’s Art of the American West ground floor permanent collection gallery greets all visitors. I made my third trip to the Eiteljorg in September of 2023 and Pickett draws me in every time. In the...

New book shares insider access...
New book shares insider access to private art collections across the U.S.

Linda Fischbach's 'Extraordinary Art Experiences in America An Insider’s Guide' book cover     Art and travel are my two favorite things. And pizza. I’ve been covering the intersection of art and travel at Forbes.com since 2018, highlighting what I think are the top public art experiences around America in over 300 stories and counting. Museum exhibitions, gallery openings, fairs, festivals, public art. That position led me to this one with “Essential West” where I place my focus on the western United States. A new book from Linda Fischbach published in August of 2023, "Extraordinary Art Experiences in America: An...

The best museums for Western...
The best museums for Western art East of the Mississippi River

  Where is the best place to find Western art east of the Mississippi River? I’m glad you asked. I love all kinds of art from the Northern Renaissance to graffiti, but it is Western art that first hooked me. The romance of the West. The landscapes. The wildlife. I remain a devote today, but scratching my itch for Western art proves difficult when living in Florida as I do. If you are similarly enamored with Western art while living “back East,” here are my recommendations for the best places to find it.     Installation view of Maynard Dixon...

Laguna Art Museum presents 'Self...
Laguna Art Museum presents 'Self Help Graphics & Art at 50'

  Glenna Avila, Untitled, 1986, silkscreen on paper, 25 x 38 14 inches. Laguna Art Museum. Gift of Rene and Norma Molina and Museum Purchase with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency   The Laguna Art Museum explores a fascinating slice of Southern California’s arts scene during “Marking an Era: Celebrating Self Help Graphics & Art at 50” on view through January 15, 2024. Over the past 50 years, Self Help Graphics & Art has grown to become one of the leading initiators in the creation of Chicana/o/x and Latinx art in the world. “Chicana/o/x”...

SITE SANTA FE receives prestigious...
SITE SANTA FE receives prestigious grant for Dakota Mace exhibition

    Dakota Mace, Tséyi (Among the Canyons). Archival Giclée Print, Glass Beadwork 30” x 42” (Framed) 2023 | Photo courtesy of the artist   SITE SANTA FE has received one of the most prestigious grants awarded annually to an American museum in support of contemporary art and will use the money to present an exhibition for Diné artist Dakota Mace in 2025. The Ellsworth Kelly Award, administered by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, is a $45,000 invitation-only grant to support a solo exhibition of a contemporary visual artist at a U.S. art museum, university, or college art gallery. Although...