Art of the Gun returns to the A.R. Mitchell Museum
Trinidad Campus / May 15, 2017 / Written by Greg Boyce
Sometimes a gun is just a gun, but customization and craftsmanship can elevate it to art status
Next month the A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art, in cooperation with Trinidad State and its renowned gunsmithing program, will feature Art of the Gun, a gun show highlighting the craftsmanship and history of American guns. The show will run Friday, June 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday, June 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the A.R. Mitchell Museum located at 150 E. Main Street in Trinidad.
Accomplished gun builders will show off a variety of workmanship on both modern and historic guns, including rifles, shotguns and muzzle loaders.
Doug Turnbull of New York will bring a custom Winchester rifle and a restored shotgun. His guns are often graced with exquisite color case hardening, a quenching process that leaves rainbow colors on gun metal.
Lee Hadaway of Trinidad, a Trinidad State graduate, will bring a commemorative take down lever action rifle. The process, which Hadaway has taught at Trinidad State summer courses, involves cutting a rifle in half and intricately installing threads to both ends. This allows the gun to be transported in two parts and then put back together for firing.
Master engraver Jim Blair of Wyoming will bring some of his incredibly detailed guns to the show. Blair’s designs are shockingly intricate and truly an art form, whether attached to a gun or not.
Another fine engraver is Les Schowe of Louisville, Colorado. He will show engraved pistols and flintlock rifles at Art of the Gun. He’s a retired engineer who has become a craftsman. He engraves professionally and teaches one-on-one engraving classes at all skill levels.
On the other end of the spectrum is “Gator,” a four-barrel shotgun built by Trinidad State Gunsmithing students and used in a 1988 movie called Big Bad John. That movie was filmed in the Trinidad area and featured Jimmy Dean of Jimmy Dean Sausage fame as Sheriff Cletus Morgan. The gun has been modified so it cannot fire, but Dean once noted that it had a real kick, saying “…my arm was numb for about ten minutes.”
Author and gunsmith Fred Zeglin of Kalispell, Montana will also attend the show with his new book “P.O. Ackley: America’s Gunsmith.” Ackley was already a well-known gunsmith when he helped start Trinidad State’s gunsmithing program in 1947. Known as a barrel maker, cartridge designer, experimenter, tool maker, reloading expert, and gunsmith, his legacy lives on at America’s Premier Gunsmithing School. A rifle built by Ackley, part of the Trinidad State collection, will also be on display.
Art of the Gun is held this year in conjunction of Trinidad State’s 40/70 celebration, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Trinidad State Gunsmithing School, and the 40th anniversary of Trinidad State’s NRA Summer Gunsmithing Series.
Admission is $10 per person per day. Tickets will be sold at the door.