I am continuing my quotes from Oklahoma’s centennial history, You Know We Belong to the Land. As Howard, Augusta’s son, grew older, he was able to do more work, and this gave her more time to paint and care for her mother, who died in 1920. “Augusta labored in relative obscurity; however, through the teens, 20s, 30s, and much of the 40s, she held the farm together during the difficult years of the Great Depression through hard work and frugality. During World War II, Howard fought for his country, leaving Augusta to run the farm. She milked 16 cows per day in addition to all the other work she had to do. Her artwork was limited to the scenes she used to illustrate her letters to Howard. At the war’s end, Howard returned, was married, and took over the bulk of the work on the farm. Augusta began painting in earnest, and she soon emerged from obscurity.
Roy P. Stewart, a widely-read columnist for the Daily Oklahoman newspaper, saw Augusta riding a horse in a parade during an Old Settlers’ Reunion in Cheyenne in 1949. He met her, saw her art, and wrote about her in one of his “Country Boy” columns, titling the piece “The Sagebrush Artist.” Nan Sheets, director of the Oklahoma City Art Center and an outstanding artist, read Stewart’s column and soon traveled to Roger Mills County to visit Augusta. Sheets understood that Augusta had no formal art training but nonetheless proclaimed that she “wouldn’t change her. She is developing a style of her own. She copies no one.” Sheets also observed that Augusta had “no interest in painting anything other than scenes and incidents, as she remembers them, from her life in the early days among the ranchers and cowboys of Western Oklahoma.”
Metcalfe Museum is now taking enrollment for our Augusta Metcalfe Summer Youth Art Camp, starting with age 9. Our date is June 24–28. Call 580.655.4467; or email email@example.com if you have a student who wishes to attend.
Break O’Day Farm, Metcalfe Museum and Art Gallery are open March 1 until Nov. 30. Our hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am–5 pm.