The life of the Florida cowboy is not an easy one. If he isn’t battling the heat, the hurricanes, or the mosquitos; then he probably has to contend with wild animals, swamps, and the monumental task of managing a herd of cattle. Florida cowboys are tough and hard-working because nothing comes easy on the ranch. Despite it being so arduous, many view the cowboy’s life as inspirational and something to be celebrated. One such man was E.L. “Buster” Kenton.
Growing up in the "Cow Capital" of Florida, Buster Kenton was surrounded by cowboys and ranches, and he knew the toll that such work could take on an individual. But, he also found something aesthetic in it. Scenes from that life were an inspiration to Buster, and would be found in his artistic work throughout the rest of his life.
From a young age, Buster’s talent as an artist was clear, and eventually he would study at art schools in New York, Chicago, Orlando, Key West and the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota. While serving in the Army in WWII, Buster had the opportunity to learn from European masters in Italy. Despite his training and exposure to different themes and styles of art, Buster always returned to painting what he knew best, the Florida cowboy and the landscapes that surrounded him.
Because he was greatly involved in the community of Osceola County, Buster’s work could be found in businesses, homes, magazines and brochures, and even on shop windows. Many long-time residents of Osceola County still own paintings created by Kenton. Some of those works were donated to the Osceola County Historical Society as a unique way of preserving Osceola County’s vibrant history through art. The art owned by the OCHS can be seen in the special temporary exhibit, The Buster Kenton Exhibit, currently on display at the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum. This temporary exhibit also features items on loan from Osceola County residents and from the Kenton’s Kowboy Classics, a charitable organization set up to honor the memory and works of Buster Kenton.
Bring your whole family for a nice holiday outing at the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum. Expect to see pieces of Buster Kenton’s work and to learn about early Florida and the life of the cowboy throughout the displays, which include sounds of Florida wildlife. The temporary exhibit will be on display now through January 9th, 2017 and is available in both English and Spanish. The Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museumis open Monday-Sunday 9AM-5PM, and admission is free to the general public.
Sources: Kenton’s Kowboy Classics