If you take Hollywood's word for it, the Wild West was populated by more donkeys than women; in the Spaghetti Western School of History, men and animals do the hard work on the range, and the only female faces belong to sympathetic saloon girls and babes from the bordello. But the true story of the American West contains as many cowgirls as cowboys hardworking, range-riding, steer-roping gals who worked right alongside men to carve lives out of the rugged landscape. That's the idea behind A Womans Place...Is on the Range, a new exhibition that opens today for a two-year run at the Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway.
The exhibition contains photographs and documents that chronicle women's roles in all things Western since the nineteenth century, from ranching, cattle and stock associations to rodeo. (Women bull-riders did everything their male counterparts did, only wearing Victorian petticoats and button-up boots.) The show, which is timed to coincide with the centennial of the National Western Stock Show, also presents contemporary women who have stuck with the rural, ranching lifestyle, and explores the cowgirl as a pop-culture icon.
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We've known for a while that cowgirls get the blues. Now they might also get their due. For information, call 303-866-3682.
Dec. 16-31, 2005