Paris, Texas

Think “cowboy” and y’all will most likely imagine vast expanses of the old American West. But as long ago as the first nomads got footsore and became farmers, human, horse, and bull forged a triumvirate that emerged around the world. For example, the Camargue region of France is known for its own breed of horse that’s as fleet and strong as the equally famous Camargue bulls they boss around.

The new exhibit “Gardians of the Camargue: The French Buckaroo Tradition” spotlights this little-known culture and the tradition of French cattle ranching, which dates to the early 1500s. The show features photography by Kevin Martini-Fuller and Lorraine d’Entremont Rawls, interpretive paintings by Karen Foster-Wells, and clothing, tools, and other artifacts from Camargue.

Tougher than nails, the Gardians have their own versions of cattle drives, rodeos, and horse racing. One tradition, as illustrated in a work from the exhibit, has a charming Gallic twist: a dozen rough-and-ready horsemen chase a lone rider around a ring, intent on snagging a bouquet of flowers.

Damn Frenchies.

May 9-July 31, 2008
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Peter Breslin