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William Riddle WarnerOn Exhibit:
Paintings by
William Riddle Warner

"Paintings by William Riddle Warner," an exhibit celebrating the work of an early 20th century southwest New Mexico artist, is on display at the Silver City Museum through Thanksgiving weekend.

The show, believed to be the first exhibition of Warner’s work in nearly 60 years, brings together paintings loaned by past and present community members and from the Museum collection. Featured paintings–many of them in their original frames--include desert landscapes, forest scenes, and views with figures and buildings.

William Riddle Warner (1884-1947), whose boyhood years were spent on a ranch in western Canada, came to the American Southwest as a young man. He became a naturalized citizen and–except for Army service during World War I and travels in the Orient–spent the remainder of his life in the West. He worked in the rugged country of Arizona and New Mexico with the Indian Service and the Forest Service, serving as a ranger and eventually as deputy forest supervisor for the Gila National Forest. After 1923 Warner held "indoor jobs," working in insurance and land sales, but he continued to be inspired by the magnificent scenery of the Southwest. In December, 1930, at the age of 47 and with no formal training, he began to capture the region’s landscapes in oils. "I just began to paint," he explained.

Warner was not only a naturally talented artist, but also a prolific one. Just nine months after picking up a brush for the first time, he exhibited 26 paintings at the Silver City Chamber of Commerce office. Soon Warner’s work was featured at the Arizona Inn in Tucson, and in 1932 a wire service story reported that the former cowboy, soldier and forest ranger was "winning fame as an artist." He exhibited paintings at the Philadelphia Academy of Art as well as in local art shows organized by the Silver City Woman’s Club during the 1930s. His works were also displayed in the lobby of Silver City’s Murray Hotel during its early years.

In 1945 Warner entered the U.S. Veteran’s Hospital at Fort Bayard with a heart ailment, and remained hospitalized until his death in 1947. According to his obituary, he continued to paint up to the day of his death, "doing some of his finest work while an invalid." Throughout his 17 years as an active artist, William Riddle Warner gave away and sold many of his paintings. A final showing and sale of his remaining work was held at the Murray Hotel shortly after the painter’s death, organized by his widow, Sarah. The Silver City Enterprise said in tribute: "His works are a graphic expression of the love he holds for the southwest which became a part of him and of which he is now a part."

"Paintings by William Riddle Warner" will be featured in the Silver City Museum’s front gallery through Thanksgiving weekend. Regular hours are from 9:00-4:30 Tuesday through Friday and from 10:00-4:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, contact the Museum at (505) 538-5921 or visit

Photo credit, this page: William Riddle Warner photo courtesy Silver City Museum Collection.


  Silver City/Grant County Chamber of Commerce

Mailing Address:
PO Box 1028 Silver City, NM 88062

3130 HWY 180 E, Suite C [MAP]
Silver City, NM 88061
(575) 538-3785
(800) 548-9378