Rancher Turned Western Artist Featured in Nall Lecture, WT Distinguished Lecture Series


CANYON, Texas—A world-renowned Western artist is the featured guest for the 2023 Garry L. Nall Lecture in Western Studies for West Texas A&M University’s Center for the Study of the American West.

Artist Theodore Waddell will present “Cheatgrass Dreams” at 7 p.m. April 20 at the Amarillo Museum of Art, 2200 S. Van Buren St. in Amarillo, in an event co-hosted by the WT Distinguished Lecture Series.

Admission is free.

AMoA will offer a livestream of the event; details will be available at wtamu.edu/csaw. The museum also will display examples of Waddell’s art.

Waddell’s work can be found in different collections throughout the world, including his “Musselshell Rider” bronze sculpture on the AMoA lawn. He has earned a variety of awards, including an honor at the White House in 2004 for his work with the U.S. State Department’s Art in Embassies program.

“To my thinking, Waddell’s work is a celebration of the American West, especially of its epic landscapes and its pastoral traditions—that is, cattle ranching in particular,” said Dr. Alex Hunt, Vincent/Haley Endowed Professor of Western Studies and CSAW director. “But his painting and sculpture is not the typical sort of Western art—neither realist in its presentation of region nor romantic in its treatment of cowboys. In short, I wanted him to come to this area because he asks us to have some different ideas about our region and our identity.”

A Montana native, Waddell studied art at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Montana College followed by a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture and printmaking from Wayne State University in Detroit. Waddell served on the art faculty at the University of Montana from 1968 to 1976. Soon after retiring from the classroom, Waddell began working in Montana as a rancher and artist, and his current work reflects the influences of these two professions.

“My life as a rancher in Montana has provided a distinct choice of subject matter as well as a sense of place, which is very important to me,” Waddell said. “My paintings are titled by the geographic locations that inspire me and I try to translate the narratives of land, seasons, mortality, grandeur and human/animal interdependence into our own context.”

In addition to the evening event at AMoA, WT students may attend a Q&A with Waddell at 2:30 p.m. April 20 in the Blackburn Room of Cornette Library on WT’s campus in Canyon.

“I hope that students will get excited about where they live, that they will reflect on the fact that they live in this awesome, epic land of the American West, and that it’s a privilege to be here and to celebrate that experience,” Hunt said. “I hope that, whether they are from the Panhandle or from another continent, that they will be excited about the American West. That’s really what CSAW is all about.”

The Garry L. Nall endowed lecture series was created to honor Dr. Nall’s exceptional service to WT and his scholastic accomplishments. The lecture series supports CSAW’s mission to promote the study of the American West. Each semester, CSAW invites a noted scholar to participate in a community lecture, classroom lecture, a question & answer discussion session, and small group outings with WT students.

Fostering an appreciation for the arts is a key component of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million.