Edward Borein and Friends at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum

Edward Borein, longtime Santa Barbara resident and prolific Western artist, is the subject of two exhibits currently on view at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. In one wing, viewers can see the museum’s beautifully curated permanent collection of Borein’s work accompanied by many artifacts from his life and career, including saddles, a door, and a printing press. A second exhibit focusing on Borein’s circle of friends will hang in the museum’s expansive main gallery until January 22, 2022. A recognized authority on Borein’s work, Marlene R. Miller, curated both exhibits with an eye attentive to what makes this famous Santa Claus Barbaran such an exemplary figure.

Born and raised in California, Edward Borein arrived in time to witness the last decades of traditional longhorn cattle ranching in the Southwest and Mexico. A draughtsman from an early age, Borein combined an extraordinary work ethic as an artist with the physical bravery of an early 20th century cowboy, or vaquero, as he would probably have preferred to be known. Through lifelong friendships with famous personalities such as Will Rogers and Leo Carrillo, and through his perseverance as the producer of many thousands of images of ranch life, Borein rose to prominence as the greatest artist Western country after his role model Frederic Remington. . Meeting the expectations raised by this line of work meant maintaining an elaborate collection of western and native artifacts and participating in activities ranging from authentic cattle drives to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows.

In addition to these two fascinating and complementary exhibitions, the Historical Museum has published a beautifully illustrated biography of the artist, Edward Borein: Engraved by the West, by art historian B. Byron Price. A catalog for Borein and his circle of friends is also available, allowing one to savor the curatorial work that has gone into the exhibition for years to come.

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