University Galleries at University of San Diego

formerly named

Founders Gallery at University of San Diego

San Diego, CA




Olaf Wieghorst: Images of the American West


Paintings by famed Western artist Olaf Wieghorst will on display at the University of San Diego this month, following the gift of a dozen of his paintings to the institution. The free exhibit runs from March 27 to May 12, 2000 in Founders Gallery, located in Founders Hall on the west end of the USD campus. (left:Along the Pancho Villa Trail )

Wieghorst, a native of Denmark who moved to El Cajon after coming to America, was known for his sketches, paintings and sculptures depicting life in the Old West. His vivid images of cowboys, Native Americans, horses and other western icons have become among the most highly sought after by collectors of Western art.

This winter, Grace Thackeray, widow of San Diego art gallery owner and painter George Thackeray, donated 12 of Wieghorst's works to USD. Both she and her husband, who helped promote Wieghorst's career, were impressed by the can-do spirit of the self-taught Wieghorst. "My husband was a man who had equal talent, but he spent 40-some years promoting Wieghorst, a friend and someone he greatly admired," she says. She hopes her gift will help inspire future artists. (left: Buckin' for Bucks)

Wieghorst "was a self-made artist; He didn't have any instruction along the way," she adds. "I thought it would add to the university's art department to see what a person could accomplish under those circumstances."

The works on display in Founders Gallery at USD, include characteristic Wieghorst pieces of realistic horses and their riders, such as "Buckin' for Bucks," a 1954 canvas of a rodeo rider. A personal favorite of Grace Thackeray's is "Long Walk of the Navajo," depicting the resettlement of the Arizona tribe in an almost impressionistic style. Wieghorst "would go out and live among these people and paint them," she recalled. "He loved the Southwest." (left: Long Walk of the Navajo; right: Drifting West)

Wieghorst died at age 88 in 1988. George Thackeray died in 1996 at age 81.

Gallery hours for "Olaf Wieghorst: Images of the American West" at USD are Tuesday through Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The University of San Diego is an independent Catholic institution, located on 180 acres overlooking the city's Mission Bay. To get to USD from the north, exit I-5 at Sea World Drive and Tecolote Road, just past the Hilton Hotel on Mission Bay. Turn left on Tecolote Road, right on Morena Blvd. and then go left on Napa St. and left on Linda Vista Road. Go less than a mile and turn left into USD's West Entrance or follow Linda Vista Road up the hill to the school's main entrance. From the South use I-5 and exit at Morena Blvd. Follow it to the first right exit onto Linda Vista Road and then follow directions above. From the east use I-8 and exit at Morena Blvd and make a right onto Linda Vista Road, before following directions above.

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

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