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Twenty-four Hours with the Herd

In the early 1930s, Frank Reaugh completed a series of seven, large-scale pastel drawings that visually documented a day in the life on the plains during the height of the West Texas cattle drive. These new, panoramic landscapes fulfilled Reaugh’s desire to convey, to a new generation, his life's experiences while traveling on the “free grass” of the Southwest prairies before the turn of the century. Utilizing these seven, seminal artworks as a focal point, Reaugh produced a multi-media performance that combined narration (Prose Sketches) and music (string instruments and piano) with dramatic lighting effects.

Poet and western writer Clyde Walton Hill created the Prose Sketches, which were co-published with Reaugh in an illustrated brochure. Reaugh also included his friend, country musician David Guion, in the performance. Guion’s adaptation of Home on the Range became a western hit. Before the performance, Reaugh would deliver his “Prelude” to the audience as follows:

". . . . This series, together with my Roundup picture, is the most important work portraying (the) early range that I have done. . . . No other artist had the opportunity or the desire to paint such subjects then (1880s) or for many years thereafter. Now, the subjects have passed. They will not be painted with like authenticity again. The cowboys that took the great herds across the country . . . were different from any men that could be found today. . . quite different from the rollicking rodeo man, and different from the line rider on the ranch. Sober, hard, stern, generally middle-aged, they were men who could be trusted with thousands of dollars worth of cattle. . . .There was no time for idling or fun while on the trail. It was work for 16 or 18 hours, and in time of trouble, rain, cold or sleet, twenty-four hours per day."

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