Wares from the West

Former Cortez history teacher, Rob Wilson stands in front of a tee-pee in mountain man gear. Wilson is displaying mountain man gear, clothing and muzzle loaders as part of the Western Heritage Art Show at the Mancos Visitor Center. Enlargephoto

Courtesy/The Mancos Times

Former Cortez history teacher, Rob Wilson stands in front of a tee-pee in mountain man gear. Wilson is displaying mountain man gear, clothing and muzzle loaders as part of the Western Heritage Art Show at the Mancos Visitor Center.

Mancos artist Rob Wilson's work has been steeped in history since he started crafting powder horns and buckskin clothing in the 1960s and '70s.

For decades, he made mountain man clothing and gear for re-enactments of the Western rendezvous.

A few pieces of his work, depicting life in the mid-1800 mountain West, are featured in the Western Heritage Art show at the Mancos Visitor Center that opened on June 30.

The show also features replicas of Native American artifacts, photography and oil paintings, among other items.

"We get a really good smattering of different art mediums," said Jan Wright, president of the Mancos Arts Council.

The council puts on eight shows a year and timed the Western Heritage show to go with Mancos Days. The town's biggest festival of year celebrates Mancos' heritage and is scheduled for July 25 through July 27.

"There is a western heritage that is felt very strongly in Mancos," she said.

Wilson, a former Cortez history teacher, has played the role of a mountain man for Bent's Old Fort and participating in local mountain man competitions.

In more recent years, Wilson and his wife, Mary, have been making replicas based on life before the mountain men. Wilson, who used to make gourd canteens for rendezvous, started decorating them with petroglyphs based on real sites and found he had a new marketable product.

He is now a regular at Saturday Cortez Farmers Market, and his garage is a staging area for his home-grown gourds in different stages of becoming art. Some are finished with wax resist or etched with a rim of yucca or rabbit brush.

While he has given up re-enacting, he's still an encyclopedia of history. If you want to chat about crafting a muzzle loader, buckskin jacket or gourd pot you can catch him at the Cortez Farmers' Market every Saturday. The visitors' center show runs through July.

Rob Wilson makes gourds into decorative pieces with his wife, Mary. Enlargephoto

Mary Shinn/The Mancos Times

Rob Wilson makes gourds into decorative pieces with his wife, Mary.

Rob Wilson and his wife, Mary, creative decorative gourds with images modeled after real petroglyphs. Enlargephoto

Mary Shinn/The Mancos Times

Rob Wilson and his wife, Mary, creative decorative gourds with images modeled after real petroglyphs.

Rob Wilson and his wife, Mary, create decorative gourds with images modeled after petroglyphs. Enlargephoto

Mary Shinn/The Mancos Times

Rob Wilson and his wife, Mary, create decorative gourds with images modeled after petroglyphs.