Edward Borein was one of a handful of early Western artists who was actually born in the West. As a young man he roamed the western states and territories and much of Mexico, working as a cowboy and using his artistic talent to record these experiences. Developing a deep affection for the West, and nurtured by his free lifestyle as a cowboy, he soon became known as a facile and spontaneous recorder of cowboy and Indian life.
In his early thirties Borein decided to pursue a career as a professional artist and moved to New York City, where his studio soon became a favorite haunt for important figures such as Will Rogers, Charles M. Russell, Carl Oscar Borg and Buffalo Bill Cody.
Borein returned to his native California, married, and set up a permanent studio in Santa Barbara in 1921. His etchings, watercolors, and drawings quickly earned him a reputation as one of the foremost interpreters of the American West, and few artists have done so as accurately and skillfully as Borein.
After Edward Borein’s death in 1945, a number of prominent Santa Barbara citizens produced a limited edition publication, Etchings of the West, to memorialize this valued member of the community and important Western artist. These same citizens also convinced Ed’s widow, Lucile, that Ed had earned a place in history that needed to be preserved. Selecting the Santa Barbara Historical Society (now the Santa Barbara Historical Museum) to be the repository of her husband’s legacy, she donated numerous works of art and personal objects, including Borein’s own collection of the best impressions of his etchings.
Since then, the Museum has been very active in adding important Borein material to its collection, following in the footsteps of the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana.
And now, with the opening of the new Edward Borein Gallery and Research Center in early 2017, the Museum has created an appropriate memorial to an artist whose accurate depictions of cowboys and ranching, vaqueros and stagecoaches, Plains and Pueblo Indians, and the California missions made an invaluable contribution to our understanding and appreciation of early Western culture.
Marlene R. Miller
Curator, Edward Borein Collection