Academy of Western Artists

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The Academy of Western Artists, based in the town of Gene Autry, Oklahoma, is an organization that honors individuals who have preserved and perpetuated the heritage of the American cowboy, through rodeo, music, poetry, campfire and chuckwagon cooking, and western and ranch clothing and gear.

The academy seeks to preserve the traditional values associated with the cowboy image despite consolidation in the cattle industry and changes in contemporary society. The group hosts an annual awards show. Its director is the western publisher Bobby Newton.[1]

In 1996, the academy began making annual awards at a gathering in Fort Worth, Texas, specifically to recognize the performers and artisans active in the contemporary cowboy and western movement. The awards have been received by more than five hundred individuals in a variety of categories.[2]

Among the 2011 winners are Bruce Pollock (radio disc jockey), Henry Real Bird and Bette Wolf Duncan (poetry books, Horse Tracks and Dakota, respectively), The Nugents (young artists), Syd Masters (male singer), and Mary Kaye (female singer), JImmy Burson and Joni Harms (Western swing), Stardust Cowboys (Western album "Riding Back to You"), Curtis Potter (Country album, "The Potter's Touch"), and B. K. Nuzum (chuckwagon).[3]

Since 2008, the academy has presented the prestigious Will Rogers Medallion Award, named for the Oklahoma-born humorist Will Rogers, for outstanding western literature, including books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, and works for younger readers. One of the 2012 winners is Will Rogers - a Political Life by Richard D. White of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, published by the Texas Tech University Press in Lubbock.[4]

Similar in scope to the Academy of Western Artists is the Western Music Association, incorporated in Arizona in 1989, which maintains its own Hall of Fame.[5]


  1. Academy of Western Artists. Retrieved on July 3, 2012.
  2. About the Academy. Retrieved on July 3, 2012.
  3. 16th Annual Awards Show Winners. Retrieved on July 3, 2012.
  4. Will Rogers Medallion Award. Retrieved on July 3, 2012.
  5. Western Music Association and Academy of Western Artists. Retrieved on July 3, 2012.