Editor's note: The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum provided source material to Resource Library Magazine for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum directly through either this phone number or web address:


Ben Carlton Mead: A Centennial Exposition


The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas opened on April 13, 2002 Ben Carlton Mead: A Centennial Exposition, an examination of the long-time Amarillo painter, illustrator, and historian. The exhibition features some 70 works borrowed from public and private collections in the Southwest.

Born in 1903 at Bay City, Texas, Mead moved to Amarillo where during high school he did theatrical painting and was sports editor for the Amarillo Daily News. Mead then studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and with San Antonio painter Alexandre Hogue.

First a commercial artist at San Antonio, then staff artist at San Antonio's Witte Memorial Museum from 1930 to 1932, Mead returned to Amarillo. He taught at Amarillo College and at his Amarillo and Pale Duro Canyon studios, the latter equipped with a tipi. (left: Ben Carlton Mead, Palo Duro Creek, 1963)

In 1934, for the Public Works of Art Project under President Roosevelt's New Deal, Mead and H. D. Bugbee designed an eight-mural series for Pioneer Hall of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. Mead eventually painted two New Deal murals for Pioneer Hall and another in 1956 funded by the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society. Mead also painted a mural for the Quay County Courthouse at Tucumcari, New Mexico, and murals for the Bivins Building on Polk Street in Amarillo.

By 1941, Mead was a commercial artist in Dallas where he lived until moving to California in the early 1980s. In 1973, he appeared in the television series "Gunsmoke." After enduring virtual blindness during the late 1970s, a corneal transplant enabled Mead to begin painting again.

A student of Western history, Mead was a member of the Western History Association, the Texas State Historical Association, Westerners International, and the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society. He illustrated numerous publications on the West including J. Frank Dobie's Coronado's Children, On the Open Range, I'll Tell You a Tale, Cow People and Loula Grace Erdman's The Wind Blows Free, and many periodicals on the West. Mead also illustrated catalogue covers for the Amarillo Fat Stock Show. He was included in Jeff Dykes' Fifty Great Western Illustrators. Mead died in 1986.

The exhibition will examine Mead's early career in Amarillo through his work as a commercial and fine artist, using the Museum's sixteen-piece Mead collection as a foundation. The Mead family and Mead collectors will also lend works for the show which will run through September 22, 2002.


Resource Library editor's note:

To view TFAO photo library images allowing viewers of the artwork on this page to compare photographic images with the artistic interpretation, please click here for set one and here for set two.

Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Resource Library Magazine.

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page, excepting the editor's note, was originally published in 2002 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

Copyright 2013 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.