Phippen Fall Gathering rounds up history, dinner, fun

Bill Nebeker’s bronze “Makin’ Tracks.” (Courtesy photo)

Bill Nebeker’s bronze “Makin’ Tracks.” (Courtesy photo)

The Phippen Museum's annual Fall Gathering - in the style of a big party after a cattle round-up - will spread across the museum's grounds Saturday.

The event first began with the grand opening of the original building in the mid-1980s as a way for the Phippen to thank the ranching community, including the Deep Well Ranch that donated the land, and the many others who had contributed time and money to get the museum going.

Today, the Fall Gathering is a thank-you to museum members and all the people who support the Phippen Museum, said James Ward, events coordinator.

The Fall Gathering begins at 5:30 p.m. and features cowboy barbecue of smoked tri-tip steak and all the trimmings, western music by Blaine Cone, and a drawing for artist Bill Nebeker's bronze, "Makin' Tracks."

The special highlight of the Fall Gathering will be the induction of the late Bill Gary into the Arizona Rancher and Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Gary joined the Phippen's Board of Trustees in 2007, chaired its Facilities Committee and was the driving force in raising $2.5 million to double the museum's size. He was also responsible for much of the landscaping work completed on the museum grounds, donated a Remington statue, renovated the front entrance and loaned numerous artifacts and memorabilia to the museum. In addition, he helped curate the gallery now known as the Bill and Marion Gary Western Heritage Gallery, and he developed the museum's Ranch Day, when the public is invited to visit a ranch for special activities.

Gary created and trademarked the museum's Arizona Rancher and Cowboy Hall of Fame to honor ranchers, working cowboys and rodeo cowboys. His induction ceremony will take place after the barbecue.

The cost of the Fall Gathering is $25 per person, and free for children younger than 8. Tickets for the drawing for the Nebeker bronze are $5 each and $20 for five. For reservations and information, contact the museum at 778-1385 or visit its website at www.phippenartmuseum.org.

The Phippen Museum is named for artist George Phippen, who died in 1966. He was a founder and first president of the Cowboy Artists of America. His late wife, Louise, their sons and local artists formed the George Phippen Foundation in 1974 to create a western art museum in his memory.

Kevin Pitts, chair of the Phippen Board of Trustees, said, "I am very excited about this year's Fall Gathering because we are going to induct Bill Gary" into the Hall of Fame. "It should be a great time."