In 1958, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson recorded “My Rifle, My Pony, and Me,” a melancholy tune that conjured the myth of the cowboy, his heroic loneliness and manliness. That an Italian crooner and a teenage pop star could recast themselves as solitary ranch hands speaks to the romance of the West as a symbolic site of transformation, a seemingly boundless place to begin anew. The promise of the West continues to lull men into daydreams—on The Sopranos, Martin and Nelson’s song brings Tony, a hardened mob boss, to tears—and even inspires them to relocate. Both Justin Timberlake and Kanye West moved to Montana to reimagine themselves. This exhibition explores, through over 80 paintings and sculptures by artists such as Maynard Dixon, Frederic Remington, and John Sloan, a narrative that continues to permeate the American imagination. —C.J.F.
Frist Art Museum 919 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203, United States Get Directions »