Edward Borein's “A Long Line of Cattle" | Credit: Courtesy

Longtime Santa Barbara resident and prolific western artist Edward Borein is the subject of two shows currently on view at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. In one wing, viewers can see the museum’s beautifully curated permanent collection of Borein’s work accompanied by many artifacts from his life and career, including saddles, a door, and a printing press. A second show focusing on Borein’s circle of friends will hang in the museum’s ample main gallery space until January 22, 2022. A noted authority on Borein’s work, Marlene R. Miller, has curated both exhibits with a keen eye for what makes this famous Santa Barbaran such an exemplary figure. 

Born and raised in California, Edward Borein arrived in time to witness the last decades of traditional longhorn cattle ranching in the southwest and Mexico. Adept at drawing from an early age, Borein combined an extraordinary work ethic as an artist with the physical derring-do of an early 20th-century cowboy, or vaquero, as he would likely have preferred to be known. Through long-standing friendships with famous personalities such as Will Rogers and Leo Carrillo, and by sheer persistence as a producer of many thousands of images of ranch life, Borein rose to prominence as the greatest Western artist in the country after his role model Frederic Remington. Fulfilling the expectations aroused by this line of work meant keeping an elaborate collection of western and native artifacts and participating in activities that ranged from authentic cattle drives to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows. 

In addition to these two fascinating and complementary exhibits, the Historical Museum has published a splendidly illustrated biography of the artist, Edward Borein: Etched by the West, by the art historian B. Byron Price. A catalog for the Borein and His Circle of Friends show is also available, making it possible to savor the curatorial work that went into the exhibit for years to come. 

This edition of ON Culture was originally emailed to subscribers on April 26, 2024. To receive Leslie Dinaberg’s arts newsletter in your inbox on Fridays, sign up at independent.com/newsletters.


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