‘The Life & Times of Charles Goodnight’: A Unique Exhibition Deep in the Art of Texas

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Tony Maples Photography


A new fine art exhibition, opening at the Bryan Museum in Galveston on June 30, focuses on western folklore with “The Life & Times of Charles Goodnight.” Running through October 22, this is a uniquely curated display on the life of the legend, with pieces created by well known western/cowboy artist Lee Cable. Sponsored by the Houston-based Susan Kathleen Black Foundation, the exhibition will remain at the Bryan until the fall, when it will go on to various museums throughout Texas over the course of the next five years.

Charles Goodnight was famed for his cattle ranching efforts and drives of yore. The famous Goodnight-Loving Trail was named after Goodnight and his cattle business partner. The stories of that life on the trail are now captured in this one-of-a-kind art exhibition in a precise recreation. Detailing several of the “…most colorful and historically interesting events in the life of Charles Goodnight. The exhibition looks at the story of Goodnight’s life through the artistic lens and skills of contemporary Western / Wildlife artist, Lee Cable.”

‘The Life & Times of Charles Goodnight’: A Unique Exhibition Deep in the Art of Texas

Photo: Facebook/Postcards From The Panhandle Via Linda Moseley Dowlen

Very adept at creating fine art images, Lee Cable has crafted an artistic testament to the life and times of the Texas legend Charles Goodnight. His work focuses on the protagonist who, together with his partner Oliver Loving, revolutionized the cattle industry in the 19th century. Depicting defining moments in Goodnight’s life, Lee Cable’s masterful exhibition includes a portrayal of the promise that Goodnight had made to his friend and business partner. After Loving’s untimely death, which resulted from wounds he sustained in a Comanche conflict, Loving’s remains were taken back to Texas by Goodnight, who had promised to do so.

“So in February 1868, Goodnight returned to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where he had Oliver Loving’s body exhumed so that he could return it to Weatherford, Texas. Goodnight then made arrangements for a custom container to be constructed. It was made from discarded oil cans that were then soldered together. Oliver’s casket was placed inside and surrounded with powdered charcoal. The tin container was then crated in lumber. Loving’s son, William, joined the funeral mule team cavalcade as Goodnight fulfilled the promise he had made to his lifelong friend, returning his body so that it could be buried back in Texas.”

Subsequently, Cable’s compilation of art fixtures for the exhibit includes a painting called “A Promise Made, a Promise Kept,” in accordance with his portrayal of the emotion that would have laid heavy on those involved.

Such is the quality and detail behind each component of this exhibit. “Cable’s series of 13 paintings is a conscious balancing act between solid historical research and artistic license. As Cable says, ‘In the case of Goodnight much is written, not much is illustrated.’ This body of Lee’s artwork in this exhibition aims to change that.” The Bryan Museum in Galveston focuses on the “romance of the west” and houses one of the world’s largest collections of historical artifacts and art in relation to Texas and the American West. In addition to its permanent galleries, the Museum also includes rotating special exhibits, such as “The Life & Times of Charles Goodnight,” together with a library, and an archive. Further exhibit details can be found at the link available here, and ticket prices and times can be found on the museum website link provided here.