Peter H. Hassrick, Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, has won a Western Writers of America (WWA) Spur Award in the Best Western Short Nonfiction category for 2019. The honored article, “Art, Agency, and Conservation: A Fresh look at Albert Bierstadt’s Vision of the West,” was published in the Montana Historical Society’s Montana the Magazine of Western History.
The article grew out of Hassrick’s scholarship for the Center of the West’s 2018 special exhibition Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West, which he co-curated with the Center’s Karen McWhorter, Scarlett Curator of Western American, and Laura Fry, Curator of Art at Gilcrease Museum of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Witness to a Changing West addressed Bierstadt in the context of his treatment not just of majestic mountains and lakes but more prominently of bison and American Indians, whom he approached as key subjects for his art. By looking beyond Bierstadt’s better-known grand landscapes, the exhibition promoted fresh, new perspectives on the beloved American artist. Co-produced by the Center of the West and Gilcrease Museum, Witness to a Changing West appeared at the Center from June–September 2018, and at Gilcrease November, 2018–early February, 2019.
The WWA Spur Awards have been awarded annually since 1953, and honor the best in western fiction, nonfiction, poetry, song, and film scripting. The list of winners each year include the most distinguished western authors in America; categories include western historical novel, western traditional novel, western contemporary novel, short story, short nonfiction. Also, contemporary nonfiction, biography, history, juvenile fiction and nonfiction, drama, documentary, and first novel as well as first nonfiction book.
Hassrick is a writer and independent American art scholar who focuses on the West. In his current role as Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar at the Center, he shares his research into western America art through books and numerous articles, speaking engagements, and curating exhibitions. In addition to co-curating Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West with Karen McWhorter, Hassrick co-curated Painted Journeys: The Art of John Mix Stanley with former Whitney Museum Curator Mindy Besaw in 2015. He regularly contributes to the Center’s membership magazine, Points West.
He is also Director Emeritus of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum, Founding Director Emeritus of the Charles M. Russell Center at the University of Oklahoma, and founding Director of The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe following twenty years at the Buffalo Bill Center. He held the post of Curator of Collections at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth for five years.
To learn more about the Western Writers of America and the Spur Awards, visit westernwriters.org. The Center’s McCracken Research Library’s gallery features a Western Writers of America exhibit as well.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s pages on Facebook and Twitter.