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We were pleased to feature Joelle Smith's painting, "Heading Home," as the official poster for Cowboy Poetry Week, 2006 and as the cover for the first edition of The BAR-D Roundup

Below, see more of her art, read about her life, and read poems and songs in tribute to Joelle Smith.

View more of Joelle Smith's work below and at www.JoelleSmith.com.


View larger versions of these works and more information below.

Joelle Smith got her first pony, George, when she was ten. This was not the start of her love of horses, but was the first real horse that came into her life. She even chose the college she attended because they had a school pasture where she could keep her horse.

continued below ...

“Riata Man” 

by Joelle Smith

32 x 24
oil on panel


"Old Friends"

by Joelle Smith

12 x 10

"Joelle & Teddi" 

by Joelle Smith

9 x 12



"She's a Hand" 

by Joelle Smith


A special 2010 National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur subject.


"She's a Hand" was inspired by Oregon cowgirl Mindy Kershner's participation in the Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo

"She's a Hand" was the image selected for the 2009 "Cowboy Keeper Award" from the National Day of the Cowboy organization. Director Bethany Braley tells that Joelle Smith's work inspired the award, which is given to "organizations and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the preservation of Western heritage."



"Heading Home"

by Joelle Smith

20 x 16

 The official poster for Cowboy Poetry Week, 2006, the cover art for The BAR-D Roundup CD,
 and an Art Spur subject.

Ranchers TJ and Nate Wald of Lodge Grass, Montana, are the pictured riders in Joelle Smith's painting, "Heading Home."

Nate Wald is a respected rawhide braider and a member of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association. T. J. Wald is a Vintage Dance Mistress. She teaches and she manages the annual Grand Ball of 1876 in Hardin, Montana, and the 1864 Grand Ball in Virginia City, Montana, and other Vintage Dance Events.  

Of course we have grand memories of the photograph and several others that Joelle took herself at our ranch, and painted, as well.

She came and stayed for several days. We had to ride out and gather some cows belonging to a neighbor.  (Joelle was really happy that we had to do that.)  So, she took her camera along and snapped many photos.  By the way, Joelle was a very good hand.

It was a beautiful day and the sky looked just like it does in the painting. Joelle sort of rode back behind people so she could get the shots she wanted and when we would turn to look for her she would be snapping pictures.

The next day my husband Nate asked Joelle if she would like to go along to a neighbor's place to move some cattle.  Joelle said, "Oh, would I" ... and she  had a terrific time.  They were gone all day long and I was very surprised that Joelle was not really very tired when she returned.  (She was not well  at the time but no one would have known that.)  Joelle was an amazingly strong woman.

We have so many paintings from her visit with us and we cherish all of them.  Our son Jackson was the model for "High Trot" by Joelle on Capriola's 2005 calendar. She drew a beautiful pencil of Jackson's horse "Dan" that we totally love and look at fondly while being reminded of her visit.

People who pass away are remembered by their families and  friends for as long as possible but a person like Joelle will be remembered  by many, many people who had never even met her thanks to her gift.

In a nice connection, Utah poet Paul Kern recognized the Walds. He shares his poem, Under a Montana Moon, which is about the Victorian Ball hosted in Virginia City, Montana. He wrote, "T.J. Wald is the proctor, Nate is her sidekick.  T.J. is a very talented dancer and dance instructor." Read the poem and see photos here.

Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Montana ranchers T. J. and Nate Wald and their son pose with the 2006 Cowboy Poetry Week poster at Cody's Annual Cowboy Songs and Range Ballads gathering, in April, 2006.

Photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
Nate and T. J. Wald at Cody's Annual Cowboy Songs and Range Ballads gathering, in April, 2006.

Joelle Smith's work is familiar to many in the posters she has done for Cowboy Poetry and Music Gatherings, including the Santa Clarita Cowboy Poetry And Music Festival, the Monterey Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, the Visalia Roundup; for the Cowgirl Hall of Fame; and for Western music albums, including those for Don Edwards, Lorraine Rawls, and Wylie and the Wild West.




  More about Joelle Smith (continued from above)

Joelle's life revolved around her love of horses, both in her work and in the rest of her life.  She lived with her mother, Sally, on twenty acres in Alfalfa, Oregon, along with seven horses. Sally contributes as secretary for Joelle's business, as well as chief cookie baker. She has become known as "Cookie Mom" at Joelle's shows for the cookies that she brings.

Joelle spent her mornings with the horses and painted in the afternoons and evenings.  The horses came first in her life just as they came first in her daily schedule.

Her favorite subject was horses, and these she painted with true passion.  "The art came from the horses," she explained.  The love of horses was always there and so was the art, but the horses came first."

All of Joelle's subjects were real horses, real places and real people. She did not pose them for her paintings, but tried to capture a slice of life in a documentary style. Many of the horses in her paintings are her own, as they were close by.  She made at least two trips out of the area a year to gather material.

Joelle's work is a reflection of her experiences on ranches throughout the West.  Her paintings are records of contemporary Western life, her legacy to future generations.

Joelle was invited to display her work at the 2006 Prix de West at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, an accomplishment she strived for during her entire career.

On August 5, 2005, Joelle lost her valiant three-year battle with cancer.  Though her physical presence here on earth is and will always be greatly missed, her legacy of work will live on. 

Read some tributes to Joelle Smith below.

See more of Joelle Smith's art at www.JoelleSmith.com.




In Tribute

"Memories" by Clara Smith
"For Joelle" by Virginia Bennett
"Through Her Eyes" by Lorraine Rawls and Linda Bark'karie
"Goodnight Good Pony" by Juni Fisher
"Galleries of the Heart" by J. D. Seibert
 "The Sign of the Grass" by Paul Kern
"Joelle's Gifts" by Kathy Herndon
"Through Rudy's Eyes" by Jary D. Winstead


Clara Smith, age 11 in 2007, shared this poem written for Joelle Smith, her aunt. Clara was a model for two of Joelle Smith's works, a drawing in the August, 2006 issue of Western Horseman, and the drawing below, of Joelle and Clara riding and dragging a tree, used on a Christmas card:


I wake up in the warm summer morning
A cat by my side and a dog at my feet, I smell the fresh country air
Look out my window to see the beautiful pasture,
It is the best day for riding

I get ready, have a bite and go outside to catch my horse
I tie her to the barn and brush her silky hair
I place the blanket on her back and the saddle too
I tack up my horse and remember how my aunt used to help me

I tighten the cinch snug and put the bridle in her mouth
Off we go into the warm sun
I warm her up by walking, then progressing into a trot
Round and round the ring faster and faster
Pretty soon I can feel her urging to lope

I open the gate and into the pasture
The dog races out wanting me to follow
We go jumping over water pipes; it feels like she's flying
As she runs it sounds like she's thunder pounding through the clouds
When I ride I always remember how we used to ride together
Even though my aunt is gone she will always be in my soul
Especially when I ride!

© 2007, Clara Smith
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

"Bringing Home the Tree," Joelle Smith, 2004

Virginia Bennett shared her poem, which she says "is written to describe that first shocking moment when you find out a good friend has passed away."

For Joelle

A coyote trots with a backward glance
Along a dry ridge on a dull-gray morning.
For a moment, an eagle has flightless wings
Grounded by grief in the dreary dawning.

Miles away, a gentle, bay ranch horse,
Slowed by arthritis, too feeble to ride,
Attacks his pasture-mate, teeth bared and yellow,
Savagely dining on blood and hide.

Up north, a stock-dog crawls under the porch,
In the shadows, she cringes with wary eyes.
The lonely wind rushes in wild and scary,
Then dies down to a doldrum so the heat can rise.

In the barn, the tack-room door which never
Before jammed or stuck in any season.
Refuses to open, just for a moment
Like things that go awry without any reason. 

For one second only, the spring turned sour,
The flowers wilted, the cabin's curtains were drawn.
The earth does mourn in sackcloth and ashes
For now we know another good cowgirl's gone.

© 2005, Virginia Bennett
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Lorraine Rawls and Linda Bark'karie wrote "Through Her Eyes for Joelle Smith in 1998. It is included on Lorraine Rawls' CD, Through Her Eyes (www.lorrainerawls.com)

Through Her Eyes

He spins the tale, they listen intently as he talks the horses scarcely move
On wings of adventure they ride to a land he's only heard, remembered in his your

But through her eyes we see his weathered hands and the muscles slack on his pony,
Through her eyes the colors jump and play. Through her eyes the glint of grass
and the shadows speak within her, she has sight we can feel, through her eyes.

The yearlings evening play is abandoned for a moment, to scratch at flies who bit,
With shared relief of the day they nuzzle to each other, towards the blanket of the night.

And through her eyes they're a part of the earth and they blend in with the sky. Through her eyes
Their jaws are clenched so fiercely. Through her eyes soft ears reveal "you are ever my compadre"
There's affection in her hand and through her eyes

When she paints a picture the canvas is her book
The brushstrokes tell a story we're allowed to look.
Emotion is her pallet   what we casually pass by
She catches with her eye

The bounty of the paintbrush
is as strong as the rushing of a river,
as gentle as a stream
The scent of the sage upon the desert
is an image she can carry to all of us it seems

And through her eyes the Judith Basin
blooms in hues unfading.
Through her eyes the Vaquero proudly stands,
Through her eyes the longhorn gave
and the cowboy ropes and spins
The wind whispers secrets and we all get to share them
Through her eyes

© 1998 Lorraine Rawls, L. Bark'karie, Prairie Schooner Music
This song may not be reprinted or reposted without the authors' written permission.

"Through Her Eyes" was a part of the memorial service held for Joelle Smith on August 7, 2005


Juni Fisher, 2005 AWA Western Female Vocalist of the Year, shared her song, "Goodnight Good Pony," written for Joelle Smith. 

Goodnight Good Pony

A cowgirl stands at her mirror
Ties her fav'rite silk scarf and she smiles
Slips on her boots and best silver spurs
The ones she's worn many a mile

By the door there's her flat brimmed sombrero
And her chinks in a gold sunset hue
She steps out on the porch when she's ready
The pastures and mountains in view

Then the cowgirl walks out to her pony
Who lies in the sweet grass at rest
She tells him "Of all of the horses I've known,
good pony, you know you're the best"

(So) Goodnight good pony goodnight
Rest your head and close your eyes tight
I'll see you tomorrow when all the world's bright
Goodnight good pony goodnight
So the pony lay still and was dreamin'
Of the days he had carried that girl
How she'd started him when he was younger
How she laughed when he bucked and he whirled

He dreamed of the days they worked cattle
And of rides with no work at all
How he'd nudge her to get her to smilin'
How he'd find her whenever she called

At daylight the pony heard singin'
He pricked up his ears to her door
He nickered to call out his cowgirl
To come sing to him once more

Goodnight good pony goodnight
Rest your head and close your eyes tight
I'll see you tomorrow when all the world's bright
Goodnight good pony goodnight

He waited for her until sunset
Then the sky filled with beautiful light
His cowgirl had gone to her Maker
So the angels sang to him that night

Goodnight good pony goodnight
Rest your head and close your eyes tight
I'll see you tomorrow when all the world's bright
Goodnight good pony goodnight
Goodnight good pony goodnight

© 2005, Juni Fisher/Red Geetar Music ASCAP 
from Cowgirlography (January, 2006)
These words may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

J. D. Seibert shared his poem, "Galleries of the Heart," written for Joelle Smith:

Galleries of the Heart

We moved the mirror to the foot of her bed
So that she could get a better view
Of the colts playing outside her window
Just like she asked us to

It seemed to ease her passing
Watching them colts at their play
And it kinda filled in some of the silence
When there weren't much words to say

Reflection plays an integral part
When more memories can't be made
And it lives on cataloged in canvas
In galleries to be displayed

But some artwork can't be contained
By the confines of four walls
And it ain't displayed on lighted easels
To be bought and sold by all

It's the art of daily living
That a masterpiece did achieve
And that no medium can record
Or critic can receive

And for those that knew Joelle
We've received her greatest work of art
And it can proudly be displayed
In the galleries of the heart

© 2005, J. D. Seibert
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Paul Kern was inspired by "Heading Home":

The Sign of the Grass
   (for Joelle Smith)

Springtime grass grows thick and green,
To bring new life to the yet unseen,
A round of living has again begun,
Under a full moon and a brand new sun.

That endless rotation of the sky,
Leaves track and sign for both you and I,
That a cowboy's heart beats just so far,
Before it's hitched to that one last star.

When summer ranges are all grazed down,
And winds have scorched them all to brown,
Old partners with furrowed lines,
Know to read the tracks and signs.

When winter winds howl mean and cold,
And a cowboy's heart grows tired and old,
The sign of the grass he knows so well,
With the rangeland tracks has a tale to tell.

That a good man who knows his station,
Looking after part of God's creation,
Raising cattle and horses on that place,
Has come to know the Master's grace.

It's in this knowing that he lets it go,
To unfenced ranges he'll come to know.
A round of living will begin again soon,
Under a full sun and a brand new moon

© 2006, Paul Kern
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Kathy Herndon shared her poem, "Joelle's Gifts," written in September, 2005:

Joelle's Gifts

Where did they come from
those horses
Did they arrive unbidden
the day of your birth?

Pintos, paints, greys
pranced from dreams
through fingers, into pencils
and paints.

I still see the tiny,
red child's table,
crowded with crayons,
drawing paper,
small plastic horses.
The first members of your

Manes and tails
wove their way into your
glossy braids.

Fine brides, reins,
Muscular, glossy flanks and chests,
seared brands,
tooled saddles,
silver buckles,
worn chaps,
captured in sepia wash
And oil.

Montana, California,
and finally Oregon
schooled you in
sagebrush and corrals,
The work of the ranch
lives on your

Muscle, bone
perfect anatomy.

Rough childhood
took breath and
became vigorous

These are Joelle's gifts.

© 2005, Kathy Herndon
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Jary D. Winstead shared his poem, "Through Rudy's Eyes," a tribute to Joelle Smith: 

Through Rudy's Eyes

If you think she's no longer with us, you couldn't
be further from the truth.
Her works they surround me, around the walls from floor to roof.

Some are sewn, some are sketched, some painted, some molded, or carved as I.
Each tells a specific story, maybe of another horse, or a vaquero amid a sunset sky.

All bring to life a dream, the capturing of a moment, a way of life.
or a special place in time.
Each brushstroke a separate thought, a small portion of the story,
of a dream, that she left for us to opine.

In the mornings I can see her, riding the mare across the pasture,
with a background of mountains, junipers, and sage.
In the evening she calls to me, as the lightning dances amongst the clouds,
across the sky, and along the far off ridge.

It is then that I run to her, breaking free of those rockers of wood.
The other horses, they whinny as they hear her, and would join me,
if only they could

Across the fields a gallop, up and over the pasture fence.
She whistles to me as I see her, standing off, there, in the distance.

We then ride amidst the juniper, the canyons, in the wind my mane afloat.
The only sound is of oak against the lava, as we break from a trot and into  lope.

We ride the rim rocks, then the ridge tops
leaving our silhouette against the evening sky.
To the north, towards home, as the coyotes begin their evening cry.

Leading me to the pasture's edge, nearing the fence, she releases my rein.
Towards the house I step, as I feel another stroke of her hand through my mane.

Across the field, and into the house,
I once again take my place atop the rockers to stand.
Just to wait quietly till the next evening,
I feel her strokes through my mane with her hand.

Back amongst her drawings, I feel her presence, her thoughts, and her feelings.
She lives everywhere, amid each brushstroke, of each and every painting.

I invite you, so you may come along, to canter through the sage, the ridges,
Along with horses, she drew with high esteem.
Then, you too can join us,
As we live, as her art, that what she dreamed.

© 2006, Jary D. Winstead
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.





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