Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar-winning slave saga “Django Unchained,” Ken Burn’s documentary about “The Dust Bowl” and Kevin Costner’s miniseries about the feuding “Hatfields and McCoys” are among the winners of this year’s Wrangler Awards.
America’s premier Western museum, the Oklahoma City-based National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, marked today its 52nd anniversary with the announcement of the Western Heritage Award winners in literature, music, film and television. The awards will be presented April 20 and reflect the significant stories of the American West, according to a news release.
Each honoree receives a Wrangler, an impressive bronze sculpture of a cowboy on horseback. This year’s Wranglers are presented for works completed in 2012. Qualified professionals, outside of museum staff, judge all categories:
There are seven categories in the literary competition. They include Western novel, nonfiction book, art book, photography book, juvenile book, magazine article and poetry book:
The Outstanding Western Novel is “Unbroke Horses” by D.B. Jackson, published by Goldminds Publishing. Three Civil War deserters, dispossessed of all virtue, kidnap a young boy with the purpose of conscripting him into their degenerate band of misfits. Tethered about the neck with a rawhide lace, the boy’s survival depends upon his ability to adapt to their malevolent ways. His life, cast into darkness and evil, promises no chance for salvation. His single opportunity for redemption may lie with an old Indian horse trainer and a small band of “unbroke” horses.
Robert M. Utley wins the Wrangler for Outstanding Nonfiction Book for “Geronimo,” published by Yale University Press. A thoroughly researched biography by a renowned historian of the American West, Utley strips away the myths and rumors that have long obscured the real Geronimo and presents an authentic portrait of a man with unique strength and weaknesses and a destiny that swept him into the fierce storms of history.
“Bob Kuhn: Drawing on Instinct,” edited by Adam Duncan Harris, is named the Outstanding Art Book. Published by the University of Oklahoma Press, the book was created by the National Museum of Wildlife Art to accompany an exhibit of the same name. Wildlife artist Robert Kuhn (1920–2007) spent a lifetime sketching and painting animals and generously mentoring other artists. This book offers a compelling blend of the artist’s finished paintings and finest sketches along with various perspectives on the artist’s career. The lavishly illustrated volume is sure to further establish Bob Kuhn’s place in the pantheon of late-20th-century American artists.
Rich Clarkson and James C. McNutt collaborated with National Geographic photo editors on “National Geographic Greatest Photographs of the American West,” earning them the Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Photography Book, published by National Geographic Books. Divided into four chapters—”Legends,” “Encounters,” “Boundaries” and “Visions”—renowned National Geographic photography, past and present, brings the magic and the mystery of the American West alive through the best of its collection.
“The Quilt Walk,” written by Sandra Dallas, is the Outstanding Juvenile Book. The novel, published by Sleeping Bear Press, is a story based in 1864. Emily Blue Hatchett has been told by her father that, come spring, their family will leave their farm, family and friends in Illinois and travel to their new home in Colorado. When Emmy’s grandmother comes to say goodbye, she gives Emmy a special gift, something to occupy her time along the trip. The journey by wagon trail is long and full of hardships, and Emmy’s experiences along the way bring the period of westward expansion, as well as issues facing women, to life for young readers.
Writer Jim Logan takes top honors for Outstanding Magazine Article with “The Other Trail,” published in Oklahoma Today. Published in March/April 2012, Logan tells the 19th-century story of cowboys who drove countless herds to new markets hungry for beef. These drives—arduous, grueling and dangerous—came to symbolize the romance of the old West. One epic route in far western Oklahoma saw more cattle traverse its path than any other, including the Chisholm Trail.
The Outstanding Poetry Book winner is “Proclaiming Space” by John Dofflemyer and published by Dry Crik Press. Dofflemyer has poetic perspective derived from a life of raising cattle on the same landscape as generations of family before him. This poet offers a personal glimpse of this relationship with the natural world, both wild and domestic; of life, death and politics from the distance of Dry Creek, a tributary of the Kaweah River in the southern Sierra Nevada range of California.
The Western Heritage Music competition includes three music categories: New Horizons, original composition and traditional Western album.
“Trade Off” by performed by The Gillette Brothers, composed by Waddie Mitchell, wins for Outstanding Original Western Composition.
In the category for Outstanding Traditional Western Album, the top honor goes to “The Usual Suspects” recorded by Bill Barwick and produced by Jim Ratts. The album was inspired by Barwick’s love for the songs and stories of the West.
The New Horizons award is given to a recording artist or band that is in the first five years of their career. Miss Devon & the Outlaw is the winner for their entry “Where in the Dickens RU?” produced by Rich O’Brien. “The inspiration for the piece came from a girls road trip and a bar-b-que meal in Dickens, Texas,” said Devon Dawson, musician. “It took a few weeks to get around to it, but we girls took it seriously and crafted the first half of the song.” The second half was written by “The Outlaw” Jessie Del, Dawson’s singing partner. All three music category winners can be heard April 19 during Jingle-Jangle Mingle at the National Cowboy Museum.
Film and Television
Six categories comprise the film and television awards. They include theatrical motion picture, television feature film, docudrama, documentary, television news feature and fictional drama. This year awards are being presented in five categories.
The Outstanding Theatrical Motion Picture is “Django Unchained,” produced by Bob and Harvey Weinstein and written and directed by two-time Oscar winner Quentin Tarantino. “Django Unchained” is an American epic Western film starring Jamie Foxx, two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. Set in the Old West and the antebellum era of the Deep South, the film follows a freed slave who travels across the U.S. with a bounty hunter on a mission to rescue his wife from a cruel plantation owner.
In the category for Television Feature Film, the top honors go to “Shadow on the Mesa,” produced by Larry Levinson and Lincoln Lageson, directed by David S. Cass, Sr. The story of Wes, a gunfighter with a dark reputation, who believes his long-lost father abandoned him before he was born, and now believes his father had Wes’ mother murdered. In 1883, Wes, while tracking his father, charges into a violent range war fueled his father’s evil wife as he discovers a half-brother. As Wes learns the truth he finds redemption and love. Starring in the film are Wes Brown, Kevin Sorbo, Barry Corbin, Gail O’Grady, Greg Evigan and Meredith Baxter.
Outstanding Documentary winner “The Dust Bowl” chronicles the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history, in which the frenzied wheat boom of the “Great Plow-Up” was followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s that nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Directed and produced by Ken Burns and written and produced by Dayton Duncan, the PBS documentary includes vivid interviews with 26 survivors, dramatic photographs, and seldom-seen movie footage that bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible human perseverance.
“Longmire” is the Outstanding Fictional Drama starring Robert Taylor, Katee Sackoff, Lou Diamond Phillips, Bailey Chase, Cassidy Freeman and Adam Bartley. Executive produced by Hunt Baldwin, John Coveny, Greer Shephard and Michael Robin, “Longmire,” a television series on A&E inspired by the books by Craig Johnson, is the story of Walt Longmire, the dedicated and unflappable sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyo. Worn but not worn-out, Walt Longmire is a man in psychic repair after the death of his wife who buries his pain behind his brave face, unassuming grin and dry wit while serving his community in his beloved West.
Outstanding Television Film—Docudrama “Hatfields & McCoys,” produced for History by Thinkfactory Media, depicts the true life story of the bitter blood feud between two families in the years following the Civil War. It was executive produced by Leslie Greif, Nancy Dubuc and Dirk Hooogstra; directed by Kevin Reynolds; written by Bill Kerby and Ted Mann; starring Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton and Tom Berenger.
A black-tie event, the Western Heritage Awards are open to the public and reservations can be secured online at www.nationalcowboymuseum.org. Reservations for the April 19 pre-awards Jingle-Jangle Mingle are $40 for non-members and $30 for members. The April 20 Western Heritage Awards banquet prices are $175 for non-members and $145 for members.