Over the years, the Desert Caballeros Western Museum has been the recipient of generous gifts from many benevolent benefactors, entrusting the Museum to preserve the art, history, and culture of the West. Their donations slowly grew into an impressive collection that includes works by Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, and Maynard Dixon, just to name a few. These treasured pieces from the Museum’s permanent collection will be on display in an exhibition that has been years in the making. Join us in celebrating a legacy, built by those whose love of the West endures through art and artifacts they preserved for future generations to enjoy.
In the early 1970s, DCWM trustee Aiken Fisher suggested that the Museum become a center for Western art as well as history. Fisher had founded the Fisher Scientific Company in Pittsburgh years before, while his wife, Jane, was an heir to the Mellon fortune. As with many of the Museum’s major supporters, they had come to Wickenburg with a view to getting away from snowy winters, and they bought a home in the Rancho de los Caballeros guest ranch development. Thanks to the advice of Ginger and Fred Renner and Abe Hays, work by Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Thomas Moran, and other Western greats came into the Museum through the Fisher’s largesse.
The Fishers inspired other donors through the years, including Mrs. Scott Libby (Daughters, Houser, Kloss, Megargee, Payne), Mr. and Mrs. John D. Ryan (Boren, Heikka, Reynolds, Steinke), Joel and Roberta Rogers (Molnar, Stefan), and Harriet and Edson Spencer (Maynard Dixon). One of the most numerous gifts came from the estate of Laura Evans Ford whose family had befriended artist Olaf Wieghorst when they were in Wickenburg together in the mid-1950s. Laura bequeathed three Wieghorst oils and 22 watercolors, along with six significant Bill Nebeker bronzes and her collection of custom-made boots from Wickenburg master craftsman Al Reynolds.
Continuing the tradition, there will be a section in the exhibition on Promised Gifts from DCWM supporters who have included the Museum in their estate planning. From Victor Higgins and Gene Kloss to John Hampton and Donna Howell-Sickles, these works span the history of Western art.
“Collectors’ Legacy: Wickenburg’s Treasures” will remain on view through Mar. 7, 2021.