December 18, 2023

Cowboy: Exhibition Inspired Reading List from the Denver Public Library

Tai Bickham


The Cowboy exhibition presents 27 artists representing a vast range of perspectives including Asian-American artists, African-American artists, Latinx artists, and Indigenous artists. The exhibition aims to shift the narrative of the cowboy cultural power and significance to be both historically accurate and creatively imaginative. 

To celebrate the exhibition, the advisory team at the Denver Public Library  put together a list of suggested books and music inspired by Cowboy  that you may go and check out today! 

Do you have your library card? You can register in-person or online for free! Click here for more information. MCA Denver is proud to participate in the Denver Public Library’s Museum and Cultural Pass. The Museum and Cultural Pass provides free access to participating cultural institutions in Denver. For more information click here

Below are a few suggestions and make sure to check out the full list here




Legends of Our Times : Native Cowboy Life, Morgan Baillargeon

Throughout the world, the cowboy is an instantly recognized symbol of the North American West. Legends of Our Times breaks the stereotype of 'cowboys and Indians' to show an almost unknown side of the West. It tells the story of some of the first cowboys - Native peoples of the northern Plains and Plateau.

legends of our time - native cowboy life bookcover

Vampires of El Norte, Isabel Cañas

As the daughter of a rancher in 1840s Mexico, Nena knows a thing or two about monsters--her home has long been threatened by tensions with Anglo settlers from the north. But something more sinister lurks near the ranch at night, something that drains men of their blood and leaves them for dead. Something that once attacked Nena nine years ago. Believing Nena dead, Něstor has been on the run from his grief ever since, moving from ranch to ranch working as a vaquero.

vampires of el norte bookcover

Black Cowboys of Rodeo: Unsung Heroes From Harlem to Hollywood and the American West, Keith Ryan Cartwright

"Black Cowboys of Rodeo" is a collection of one hundred years' worth of cowboy stories - set against the backdrop of reconstruction, Jim Crow, segregation, the civil rights movement, and eventually the integration of a racially divided country - told in firsthand accounts from the cowboys themselves.

black cowboys of rodeo bookcover

Along Came a Cowgirl: Daring and Iconic Women of Rodeos and Wild West Shows, Chris Enss

In Along Came a Cowgirl, New York Times best-selling author Chris Enss introduces you to the world of early rodeo--and to the stories of the women whose names resounded in rodeo arenas across the nation in the early twentieth century. These cowgirls dared to break society's traditional roles in the male dominated-rodeo and trick-riding world, defying all expectations. With the desire to entertain crowds and a lot of grit and determination, they were able to saddle up and follow their dreams.

along came a cowgirl bookcover



The New Faith, Jake Blount

Acclaimed scholar, singer, banjoist, and fiddler Jake Blount’s new album, The New Faith, is an Afrofuturistic concept album. He is touring the album with appearances at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Festival, AmericanaFest, and Bourbon and Bluegrass Festival.


Be the CowboyMitski

Japanese American musician Mitski says of the title, "There was this artist I really loved who used to have such a cowboy swagger. When I look back, I wonder, did I want them or did I want to be them?” Be the Cowboy explores this mythos.


Pony, Orville Peck

Combining the lulling ambience of shoegaze with the iconic melodies and vocal prowess of classic American country music, enigmatic outlaw cowboy. Orville Peck, croons love and loss from the badlands of North America. His debut album delivers a diverse collection of stories that sing of heartbreak, revenge and the unrelenting tug of the cowboy ethos.


Recapturing the Banjo, Otis Taylor

The banjo, generally associated with country, folk, and bluegrass music, "originated in Africa, and made its way to America with the African slaves who were brought to the fledgling colonies as early as the 1700s. This release attempts to "recapture the banjo" as an integral part of the African American musical tradition.