This Fall: NPT and Cheekwood offer Visions of the American West

Beautiful Cody, Wyoming
Beautiful Cody, Wyoming

NPT and Wyoming PBS Work Together on New Production

Ed Jones
Ed Jones

This fall, two arts organizations in Nashville will pay homage to the spirit of the American West. Like we did with Chihuly at Cheekwood, where we documented the famous glass designer’s installations and pieces in Cheekwood’s gardens and museum, we’ll be creating a documentary to coincide with Cheekwood’s upcoming exhibit, Visions of the American West: Masterworks from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, when it opens October 22, 2011.

The exhibit will contain 175 items, among them fine art from the Whitney Museum of Western Art, including works by Frederic Remington, Thomas Moran and Joseph Henry Sharp, and artifacts in several categories, including firearms, horse culture, the Plains Indians, Women of the West and Cowboy Culture.

Perhaps most thrilling will be a number of items connected to Buffalo Bill Cody, including the Spider Studebaker Buggy he acquired in England and other personal items, including his Congressional Medal of Honor, his jacket and pistol.

Kyle Nicholoff
Kyle Nicholoff of Wyoming PBS getting ready to head up and catch some aerial shots of beautiful Cody, Wyoming.

To get a jump on production and premiere our documentary before the exhibit opens, producer Ed Jones (Beautiful Tennessee: Parks and Preservations, Tennessee Civil War 150: Secession) and NPT president and CEO Beth Curley spent some time in Cody, Wyoming at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

For Jones, who grew up in Texas, work on the project is a dream come true.

“I feel really blessed to be able to work on the Civil War series, but I’m such a western nut,“ he says. “It was like a boyhood dream to go out there and see the scenery and immerse myself in Buffalo Bill’s life.”

Jones says that the NPT production, tentatively titled Visions of the American West, will use Cody’s life as the narrative thread in the story.

“His life really mirrors the traditions of the wild west,” says Jones. “His father passed away when he was young, he was the sole supporter for his family. He hit the wagon trails and became a scout for the Union army during the Civil War. He really grew up on the trail. Coincidentally, his first trip was as part of the cavalry into Tennessee.

“He lived the American West as no one else did. He brought the west east and then around the world, with his wild west show. Before Cody, the term cowboy was really a slur. He made it popular. William Cody, in a way, created celebrity.”

In addition to focusing on the art and artifacts in the exhibit and capturing the gorgeous vistas in Wyoming, our documentary will also feature interviews with historians and curators who provide a broader perspective in the Western expansion, particularly as it relates to Tennessee.

Beth Curley and Ruby Calvert
NPT’s Beth Curley, left, with Wyoming PBS president and CEO Ruby Calvert in the Plains Indians gallery.

For Curley, the documentary is not only a chance to work with Cheekwood again, but a rare opportunity to work with another public television station, as videographers from Wyoming PBS and the station’s President and CEO Ruby Calvert were brought on to help with on-location production.

“Public television stations are busy serving their own communities,” she says, “It’s not every day we get to partner with other stations on productions, so it’s great when we can share resources, and learn from each other, and ultimately create engaging, entertaining and educational material that helps us serve both our communities better.”

NPT’s documentary, “Visions of the American West” is scheduled to premiere on October 20, 2011.

For more on the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, please visit For more on the Visions of the American West: Masterworks from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center at Cheekwood, please visit

Cheekwood will also be joining us this fall as one of our
“I Support NPT Arts” Campaign partners. We’ll be announcing the campaign, and all our partners, in mid-September, so please keep an eye on our website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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