I was told once that there is a right way and a wrong way to lay your cowboy hat when you take it off and place on a surface. The opening up is right. I wanted to play with the idea and make it somewhat abstract, playful and cheerful. A Mountain blue bird is the symbol of spring in the West.
My painting is inspired by the original photograph of a cowboy riding his bronco at the Cheyenne rodeo taken by a Union Pacific photographer named Stimson. The cowboy is Ed McCarty on his Wyoming native horse Silver City. The photograph was the source of inspiration for the Wyoming license plate design. The artist was Allen True, and Lester Hunt, then Wyoming secretary of State, was credited with the idea of a bronc rider. The image was reversed for probably legal reasons. In doing so the rider and his horse became a generic image and not the portrait of Mr McCarty who was from Goldsmith, Wyoming. He became a champion bronc rider in 1919.
I like the nostalgia of the surroundings with its empty open space. I added bright colors to anchor the memory.
A new kinetic grouping took up residency in July on Timberline Center’s lawn at the corner of West Maple way and Buffalo Way. A red horse–life size– its white mane made of Dacron sailcloth, lowers its head down to check out a blue dog eager to meet the large animal, its tail up and its red heart spinning. Both animals are made of steel metal tubing.The horse was a real horse, trained for roping. I took a picture of him one early morning on the feed line at the Muddy Creek ranch in Pavillion, Wyoming. The dog is more a “generic” dog. I call the duo “Friends.”
I imagined a line, like a pencil drawing, encapsulating open spaces. The two animals– the horse bending its neck to get closer to the dog and the dog stretching his to sniff the horse’s nose–tell a multi layered story that anybody can understand. It can be a literal and traditional scene observed on a ranch where animals co-exist in a working environment, and at the same time it is a metaphor for reaching outside of our bubble of comfort to meet new and different “friends.” It could be about bridging a generational gap, extending a helping hand to a handicapped person, talking to a foreigner…I like to give my sculptures layers of meaning.
The wind is a key player in the story of Friendship. It has a voice. I designed the sculptures to come to life when the wind blows. I gave the dog a windmill heart that spins in the air flow, adding a feeling of excitement to the story, “Just like the heart of a nervous person beats when meeting someone very different or impressive,” and I gave the horse a mane, like a mini sail with batons mounted on springs that oscillates in the wind.
I worked with Shane Lindsay, a precision metal artist, who used to live in Jackson and moved to California a few years ago. Shane understands my drawings and how I think. He is incredibly talented. We have worked together on several sculptures. He brings my vision into reality.
There is a more subtle meaning to the story of Friends, revealed with its surrounding landscaping. The tall grasses undulating behind the negative spaces of the horse’s and dog’s bodies give the scene a ghost like notion, as if this scene of a traditional ranching past were vanishing.
“I wanted to celebrate the ranching lifestyle that shaped this valley and the animals that made living here possible and enjoyable.” And to make sure we remember I added a contemporary twist to the design of my animals.
Water Like Music is the anatomy of a wave forming, flattened and reorganized on wires with pulleys so that the wind can fill in the material and make the waves flutter or move. I wanted the wind to play its part in my story, just like it does in Nature. Light and wind are parts of the narrative.
I drew patterns of wave shapes and cut them from sailcloth. The material with its transparency and its suppleness has a beautiful softness. I then sawed 49 crystal beads on the front and back of the waves. When the sunlight touches the beads at the right angle it refracts and creates splashes of light reminiscent of water splashes or droplets. These light patterns can be seen through the material.
I attached small pulleys to the waves and threaded the wire through the pulleys before fixing the wires to a wooden frame.
Water Like Music is a celebration of our natural world. The mountains that surround us with their lakes and rivers, the turbulent or gentle winds that are ever present in our days and the light that gives the sky its intensity create sceneries as precious as jewels. It is this interconnection that I wanted to portray in a frame open to the elements.