The Autry Presents: The Best of Los Angeles Featuring Chris Pierce

The Autry Presents: The Best of Los Angeles presents one of L.A.'s best kept secrets, Chris Pierce. His song “We Can Always Come Back to This” was prominently featured on This Is Us, and received multiple nominations. Pierce also recently worked on a classic soul recording project in Muscle Shoals with The Swampers, Muscle Shoals Horns and Shoals Sisters on the new critically acclaimed album, You’ve Got To Feel It! For this installment of The Best of Los Angeles, Pierce performs infront of works from the Autry's Art of the West exhibition. 


Chris Pierce - The Autry Presents: The Best of Los Angeles

About the Featured Objects

Mateo Romero, War Music II, mixed media on wood, 2008. Purchase made possible by Jackie and Gene Autry. Autry Museum; 2008.34.1

In its basic assemblage of Native riders wearing full regalia, Mateo Romero’s War Music II refers to the work of the early-twentieth-century photographer Edward Curtis. Romero remakes the earlier image using his own brushwork, evidence of his unique artistic sensibility and presence. The result is a once static image of Native America made alive again.

Indian Chief Roadmaster Motorcycle, steel, chrome, leather, plastic, glass, 1948. Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company, Museum Purchase.

The Indian Chief Roadmaster was designed as a handsome, comfortable rival to Harley-Davidson’s heavyweight touring bikes as Americans took to the road in the years following World War II. Indian’s top model, the chief Roadmaster exuded power and style. Note the Indian head on the front fender as well as the custom-fringed leatherwork. Now imagine how it would look flying in the wind as the bike speeds toward the horizon.

Motorcycles are machines both real and mythic that, like the horse, symbolize the freedom of movement associated with the West. The founders of the Indian Motorcycle Company, George Hendee and Oscar Hedstrom, felt the name Indian embodied this spirit of independence and pride.

Unidentified artist, beaded tipi bags, Blackfeet, Deerskin glass bead, circa 1900

With the introduction of the horse from the Southwest to the Plains during the eighteenth century, the region was transformed into what scholars have referred to as an “environment of motion.” Glass beads acquired in trade and sewn onto horse gear and clothing formed a system of kinetic adornment and a means of cultural expression and economic survival throughout the nineteenth century, as the reservation system confined many tribes to smaller parcels of land.

Tipi bags, also termed “possible bags,” were made in pairs and used to carry necessities for home and travel; they could also be used to line the inside of a tipi, where they provided insulation, comfort and decoration. 

Although the beaded bags have a very different origin story than does the Indian Chief Roadmaster motorcycle, both objects were designed for a similar purpose: to make their owners look good as they moved through the West with style.

About the Gallery

These are a few of the objects on display in Art of The West. This exhibition explores three primary themes -  Religion & Ritual, Land & Landscape, Migration & Movement -  that have informed artistic creation across the West. In doing so, it examines how art forms, images, and their meanings are shaped by some of the many peoples who call the West home
As Amy Scott, Art of the West author and Executive Vice President of Research and Interpretation and Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross Curator of Visual Arts, explains in her introduction, there is not one West; instead, many Wests, comprising diverse collections of places and peoples, form a “complex tapestry of ethnic mixing and geopolitical spaces, diaspora, immigration, industry, infrastructure, tourism, and environmental degradation.” By addressing such provocative themes, Art of the West challenges us to look beyond surface appearances, superficial caricatures, and cultural assumptions. The American West emerges as a dynamic place in which memory informs, but does not determine, the present.

About the Series

Produced by Gia Hughes and filmed by Emmy-winning filmmaker Austin Straub, The Autry Presents: The Best of Los Angeles features 20+ minute sets by various L.A.-based artists. The musicians will perform alongside artwork and objects on display at the Autry including Bridges by James Doolin, War Music II by Mateo Romero, a Concord mail stagecoach, and many others.