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Videos featured at Gardnerville museum

Staff reports

Four videos on the lifestyle of the buckaroo are part of the new exhibit in the changing gallery at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center on Highway 395 in Gardnerville.

“The Man They Call Will James” and “Lige, Portrait of a Rawhide Worker” by Gwen Clancy, “A Cowhand’s Song: Crisis on the Range” by Clancy and her colleague Nancy Kelly, and “Cowgirls” by Kelly can be played on a portable video recorder in the gallery where the exhibit, “The Buckaroo, Cowboys in Nevada,” is on display until the end of the year.

“Some of the visitors have been watching and enjoying the videos,” said curator Cecile Brown, who was able to obtain the videos through the Nevada Department of Library, Museums and Arts.

Anyone interested in seeing these critically acclaimed videos may ask a docent for assistance in playing them, Brown added.

A quick look at the four videos:

n “The Man They Call Will James” offers an intimate view of an enigmatic and colorful man who created a life and lived it – first on a horse and then vicariously through his writing. The video was shot on location in Nevada, Montana and California with narration by actor Richard Farnsworth. Will James as cowboy-novelist produced more than 20 illustrated books, a few of which are on display at the museum.

n “A Cowhand’s Song: Crisis on the Range” explores the harsh realities of a family cattle ranching on the Northern Nevada/California border. Robert List, former Nevada governor, said the video was a “warm portrayal of family ranchers,” and a rancher from Modoc County, Calif., said there was “not one ounce of B.S. in the whole movie.”

Carson Valley long-time rancher, the late Fred Dressler, gave Clancy some financial support for these two projects.

“Fred Dressler was a loyal supporter,” Clancy said. “When you have that ongoing support you know that somebody believes in your stuff. He really believed in these films.”

n “Lige, Portrait of a Rawhide Worker” is a profile of a traditional cowboy artist whose experience reflect the Old West. Born in 1908 on a farmstead outside of Reno, Lige Langston spent his life buckarooing on far-flung cattle outfits. He developed the once-necessary skills of fashioning his own gear – reins, riatas, hackamores, hair ropes – out of materials at hand, rawhide and cowtails. The camera follows Langston as he creates the articles using time-honored methods.

n “Cowgirls” follows three different ranch women in Surprise Valley and in Montana and Wyoming.

Clancy and Kelly collaborated first on the “Cowhand’s Song,” living and working with ranchers in Surprise Valley, near Cedarville, Calif. They earned the trust and respect of the ranchers before they actually began filming the story of the ranching way of life.

Clancy talked to many people who live in Nevada and other parts of the West to do her film on Will James. Actor Richard Farnsworth is one of the people who knew James and talks about him in the film.

Clancy works in film and the work was dubbed onto videotape for use in schools and museums.

The video of Will James fits in nicely with display, “The Buckaroo, Cowboys in Nevada,” as a painting done by James and other items dating from his time in Nevada (loaned by Valley residents) are on display.

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