Charles Goodnight Art

Exhibition Opens


The Life and Times of legendary Texas cattle man, Charles Goodnight

A wonderful fine art exhibition opening in June at the Bryan Museum in Galveston.

This very unique art exhibition is a precise recreation many of the most colorful and historically interesting events in the life of Charles Goodnight. The exhibition looks at the story of Goodnight’s life through the artistic lens and skills of contemporary Western / Wildlife artist, Lee Cable.
Cable’s series of 13 paintings is a conscious balancing act between solid historical research and artistic license. As Cable says, “In the case of Goodnight much is written, not much is illustrated.” This body of Lee’s artwork in this exhibition aims to change that.

Who was Charles Goodnight?

Goodnight was born in Illinois, in 1836. But his family moved to Texas in 1846. In 1856, he became a cowboy and a year later, in 1857, Goodnight joined the Texas Rangers. During the Civil War, he joined the Confederate States Army. As a scout, Goodnight described what it took to become a scout, First, he must be born a natural woodsman and have the faculty of never needing a compass except in snow storms or darkness.

Charles Goodnight was an American cattle rancher in the American West, perhaps the best-known rancher in Texas. He is sometimes known as the father of the Texas Panhandle. Essayist and historian J. Frank Dobie said that Goodnight approached greatness more nearly than any other cowman of history.

He invented the classic western “Cattle-Drive”

Following the Civil War, he became involved in the herding of feral Texas Longhorn cattle northward from West Texas to railroads. This “making the gather” was a near statewide round-up of cattle that had roamed free during the four long years of the Civil War. In 1866, he and Oliver Loving drove their first herd of cattle northward along what would become known as the Goodnight-Loving Trail.

Goodnight invented the “Chuck Wagon”

Goodnight’s new way of delivering cattle to market through the use of a “cattle drive” started a whole genre of western lore, all of which found its way into the classic westerns we all grew up with especially John Wayne’s. His way of feeding his men on a cattle drive gave birth to the “Chuck Wagon.” That whole concept has evolved into today’s modern Gourmet Food Trucks. Goodnight’s Chuck Wagons were first used on his initial cattle drive. Upon arriving in New Mexico, they formed a partnership with New Mexico cattleman John Chisum for future contracts to supply the United States Army with cattle. After Loving’s death, Goodnight and Chisum extended their cattle drive trail from New Mexico to Colorado, and eventually to Wyoming. The Goodnight-Loving trail extended from Belknap, Texas, to Fort Sumner, New Mexico.

The paintings are complemented by a display of authentic Charles Goodnight artifacts from institutions across the state.