🏅 Winner of the 2023 Tejano Book Award from the Tejano Genealogy Society of Austin
Beasley’s Vaqueros presents the life and work of South Texas artist Ricardo M. Beasley. Between roughly 1940 and 1980, Beasley produced dozens of pen-and-ink drawings (36 of which are reproduced here) of working vaqueros, the Tejano cowboys of South Texas. His vibrant, action-packed scenes capture the dangers as well as the joys of working with cattle, horses, and an often-unforgiving landscape of cactus and mesquite. In addition to a selection of Beasley’s work, historian Andrés Tijerina has collected and translated an extensive interview with the artist and several of his poems. Despite having lived much of his life after World War II, Beasley’s art and words capture a world in which people and events from decades before his time are just as immediate—perhaps even more so—than events of the present day. More than just a testament to the talents of a singular, self-taught artist, Beasley’s Vaqueros is a record of vaquero life in South Texas that spans the centuries. The book features a foreword by Ron Tyler, the former director of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth.
“Reading Beasley’s words and images, you feel, as fellow Texan Walter Cronkite used to say, that ‘You Were There.’ In fact, Beasley was there. One gets the impression that Beasley was drawing the death of a vaquero at the very moment when he saw him gored by a killer steer. Which is of course impossible, though it is an aesthetic accomplishment worthy of a Delacroix or Turner. I saw what I never had seen thanks to Beasley’s art and never had heard thanks to his prose and verse. I think Tijerina’s book is not merely of regional interest, but a national book with linguistic, gendered, economic, and identity issues, as well as the obvious societal ones, that are important for us all.”
—Kurt Heinzelman, University of Texas at Austin
ANDRÉS TIJERINA is a Professor of History at Austin Community College and a scholar of Tejano history. His publications include Tejano Empire: Life on the South Texas Ranchos (Texas A&M University Press, 2008) and Tejanos and Texas Under the Mexican Flag (Texas A&M University Press, 1994), which won the Presidio La Bahía Award from the Sons of the Republic of Texas and was selected for a national award from the American Association for State and Local History, and was named by the American Library Association to its CHOICE List of Academic Books in America for 1996.