Arts & Culture

Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame gears up for Catwalk in Cowtown

Is a little paint, strings of beads, a length of fringe, patches and embroidery too much? Not if it’s on a blue jean jacket custom-made for auction.

When DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) dropped the ball a few years ago on using customized jean jackets as a fundraising tool, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame museum picked up the denim and ran with it. Jean jackets seemed a natural for this group, and its first “Catwalk in Cowtown” benefit auction will debut Thursday.

More than a year ago, Julia Buswold, the institution’s executive director, sent out jackets donated by Wrangler and craft starter packages from Hobby Lobby to some of the famous inductees of the museum and a few of the local companies that have been avid supporters. The jackets were returned bedazzled and bedecked with all manner of embellishments.

The proceeds from the jacket auction will be used for the museum’s children’s education program and the preservation fund.

The first person to complete his homework project was Nolan Ryan. His jacket came winging its way back to Fort Worth in a glory of red, white and blue embroidery and detailing. It has patches for the four baseball teams with which he has been affiliated. There is also a World Series patch and one for his inclusion in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Embroidered panels with his stats and his famous number, 34, run down the front plackets. They include 3.19 ERA, seven no-hitters, 5,714 strikeouts and so forth, plus his signature scrawled in embroidery. There is a lot going on, but the jacket is well done and quite a tribute to the usually self-effacing Ryan. Buswold says she suspects Ryan’s wife, Ruth, had a hand in the design.

Rodeo cowboy Ty Murray’s now estranged wife, singer Jewel, also helped design Murray’s jacket. She hand-painted a circular effort with “Love Peace and Horses” on the back.

Some of the celebs enlisted famous help. Western entertainer and raconteur Red Steagall’s face with his trademark entreaty “Ride for the Brand” was painted by Western artist Tyler Crow.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price had glittery cowgirl boots painted on the back of her jacket, with a telling detail — the spurs strapped to the boots feature a bicycle wheel instead of a rowel.

Stuntman Dean Smith did a cross-referenced jacket for himself and for film director John Ford’s last Western, Cheyenne Autumn. His has lovely quill and bead detailing.

Eddie Gossage of Texas Motor Speedway ripped the sleeves off and went flaming biker with his, while Donnie Nelson of the Dallas Mavericks’ front office preferred a more sophisticated paint and bead combination.

All of the jackets will be sold during the auction Thursday. Two of them, Steagall’s and Smith’s, can be bid on by phone. Phone bids can be placed until 6 p.m. the evening of the auction by calling 817-626-7131.

Tickets for the auction can be purchased for $40 each at the Cowboy Hall of Fame Museum daily.

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