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Events across America celebrate the eleventh annual National Day of the Cowboy, July 25, 2015. 

The National Day of the Cowboy is celebrated each year on the fourth Saturday of July.

American Cowboy magazine launched the National Day of the Cowboy in 2004. Bethany Braley was involved with that launch and now she heads the National Day of the Cowboy organization, which works year round on the celebration.


Read
below about a special Art Spur with a painting by noted cowboy artist Gary Morton
for the 2015 National Day of the Cowboy.

Gary Morton generously donated two signed prints of "Crash of Thunder" for a drawing giveaway. Entries were welcome through July 22, 2015. The winners are Jerry Brooks of Sevier, Utah and Jean Haugen of Lander, Wyoming.

Below:

 


© Gary Morton, www.garymortonart.com;
this painting should not be reposted or reproduced without permission
 
"Crash of Thunder"

A special National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur by Gary Morton.
 

"Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
2013 Art Spur, photograph by Molly Morrow




© nikole morgan, www.wildoutwestphotography.com; reproduction prohibited
2012 Art Spur; photograph by Nikole Morgan

 

 
© 2011, Betty K. Rodgers
 2011 Art Spur; photograph by Betty K. Rodgers


2010 Art Spur; painting by Joelle Smith


copyright 2009 by Lori Faith Merritt ( www.photographybyfaith.com) "Heading In"
2009 Art Spur; photograph by Lori Faith Merritt



2008 Art Spur; photograph by Chanda Snook



2007 Art Spur; painting by Don Dane



2006 Art Spur; photograph by Jeri Dobrowski


 

 Visit these sites for more about the annual event:

National Day of the Cowboy

National Day of the Cowboy: Facebook

National Day of the Cowboy: Blog

On July 2, 2012, California became the second state (after Wyoming) to pass a permanent resolution recognizing the National Day of the Cowboy. Find a video of the resolution's passage here, which includes comments by resolution sponsor Senator Ted Gaines and comments from National Day of the Cowboy organization Director Bethany Braley. Read the text of the resolution here.

Wyoming passed the National Day of the Cowboy resolution in perpetuity on March 13, 2012. The late Senator Craig Thomas of Wyoming was the original sponsor the National Day of the Cowboy resolution.

Pictured above: Brent Slutsky, resolution sponsor California State Senator Ted Gaines, Janet Slutsky, Larry Brady, Bethany Braley, Vi Tara, California State Senator Jean Fuller, and California State Senator Doug LaMalfa.

As of May, 2013, four additional states have passed permanent resolutions: Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Oklahoma.

Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas died June 4, 2007. Senator Thomas, who sponsored the United States Senate resolution (S. Res.130) declaring July 28, 2007 the National Day of the Cowboy, was born in Cody and raised on a ranch. He earned a degree in agriculture  from the University of Wyoming and served four years in the U.S. Marines.

Senator Thomas was a popular three-term Senator who received more than seventy percent of the vote in both of his re-election campaigns. He was diagnosed with leukemia two days after the 2006 election.

Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi commented on the Senate Floor, "Craig died as he lived, with his spurs on, fighting for Wyoming until the very end."

[Photo Courtesy U.S. Senator Craig Thomas; U.S. Senator Craig Thomas waves to the crowd during the Cody Stampede parade in 2006.]

 



 

Art Spur 

It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words...we know many that are worthy of a poem or a song. In Art Spur, we invite poets and songwriters to let selections of Western art inspire their poetry and songs.

Our 41st piece offered to "spur" the imagination is a special National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur, a painting, "Crash of Thunder," by noted cowboy artist, cowboy, and rancher Gary Morton (garymortonart.com).

We asked Gary to tell us about the painting's inspiration and he commented, "Catching horses in the rope corral at the Bell. We were changing horses after making a big drive near the Beef pens. It had been threatening rain all morning. When it started, the thunder and lightning was plentiful. I don't know a single cowboy that doesn't get a little nervous when the lightning starts and the thunder crashes!"

Submissions were from all through Tuesday, July 22, 2015. Find selected poems here.
 


© Gary Morton, www.garymortonart.com;
this painting should not be reposted or reproduced without permission
 
"Crash of Thunder"
 

Poets are invited to be inspired by the art; a literal representation of the art is not expected.

The Eleventh Annual National Day of the Cowboy is Saturday July 25, 2015. Find more about the organization at  www.nationaldayofthecowboy.com/ and on Facebook.

 

 

When asked for a brief bio, Gary Morton offered a characteristically humble reply: "Lives in New Mexico, cowboy and artist, Gary Morton, loves the range riding culture and lives it."

We found a more formal bio that gives a deeper look at his life and his impeccable cowboy and cowboy artist credentials:

Gary began cowboying on different ranches as a teen and ultimately became wagon boss on the historic Bell Ranch in New Mexico. The life of cowboying makes Gary more than familiar with his subjects. “I don’t just paint for myself, but to honor the working cowboy.” Gary’s paintings are realistic, accurate and his attention to detail allows him to be honest to himself and the people he paints.

He has served on many boards throughout his career. He is one of the founding directors of the Working Ranch Cowboys Association and served as Vice-President and President. He remains a WRCA Director and chairman of rules and sanctioning.

Gary has served four Governors of New Mexico in various appointments including Chairman of the New Mexico Arts Commission, Director Department of Cultural Affairs and Equestrian Facility Design Task Force.

By 2002 Gary had spent 25 years as a full-time artist when the love of the life brought him back to ranching, taking a position as manager for the CR Ranch near Las Vegas, New Mexico. Then in 2008 he was awarded the grazing lease on the Valles Caldera National Preserve where he and a cowboy crew cared for 2000 yearlings through the summer.

In 2009 he acquired the summer grazing lease on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in southern New Mexico where he and a crew cared for 4700 yearlings. In 2011 Gary has come full circle and returned to the Bell Division of Silver Spur Ranches and the Mesteno Camp country west of the Canadian River. Being able to bring both worlds together once again has proved inspirational.

Over the years he has shown his paintings in many shows, galleries, and museums throughout the country. Gary continues to create authentic paintings of the contemporary working cowboy. He has enjoyed many opportunities to create special commission works for collectors.

Gary has a body of work that reflects a life dedicated to perfecting his God-given talent and portraying the cowboy.

 

 

 

Find more about Gary Morton in our feature here.
 

 


Previous National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur selections:

 

  "Heading West" © Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
© Molly Morrow, www.mollymorrow.com; reproduction prohibited
"Heading West"


"Heading West," a photograph by rodeo photographer Molly Morrow (www.MollyMorrow.com). See the resulting poems here.
 


 

There was no National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur in 2014.

 


Previous National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur selections:

 



© nikole morgan, www.wildoutwestphotography.com; reproduction prohibited
"Dust"

"Dust," a photograph by Colorado photographer and working ranch wife Nikole Morgan
(www.wildoutwestphotography.com)
. See the resulting poems
here.
 


 


© 2011, Betty K. Rodgers; this photograph may not be reposted or reproduced without permission
"After the Gathering"


"After the Gathering," a photograph by Betty K. Rodgers , taken at the Maggie Creek Ranch outside Elko, Nevada in January, 2010 during a photography workshop at the Western Folklife Center's National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.   Find the selected poems here.  
 



Reproduction prohibited without express written permission
"'She's a Hand" © 1993 by Joelle Smith, www.joellesmith.com

She's a Hand," a painting by notable Western artist Joelle Smith (1958-2005). The painting was inspired by Oregon cowgirl Mindy Kershner's participation in the Jordan Valley Big Loop Rodeo Find the selected poems here.  

 


 


Reproduction prohibited without express written permission
"Heading Out"
© 2009, Lori Faith Merritt, www.photographybyfaith.com

The photograph by Lori Faith Merritt, called "Heading Out," pictures cowboy and poet Georgie Sicking and Minnesota cowboy and rancher Sam Scott (fiancé of poet Diane Tribitt). See the resulting poems here.


 


 


© 2008, Chanda Snook
Reproduction prohibited without express written permission
Learnin' the Ropes

The 2008 National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur featured  "Learnin' the Ropes," a photograph by Wyoming rancher and photographer Chanda Snook of South Dakota rancher Andy Ridley and Jesse Thybo. Read the selected poems here.

 


 

 


watercolor 12x18
© 2007 Don Dane Studio
Reproduction is strictly prohibited without authorization from Don Dane Studio
"Great Day to be a Cowboy"

The 2007 National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur featured  "Great Day to be a Cowboy," a painting by notable Kansas artist, Don Dane.  Read the resulting poems here.


 



photo by Jeri L. Dobrowski, obtain permission for reproduction rights
"Leadin' a Spare"

The 2006 National Day of the Cowboy Art Spur featured "Leadin' a Spare," a photograph of South Dakota rancher Robert Dennis by photographer and writer Jeri Dobrowski. Read the resulting poems here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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