Bill Owen (1942-2013) Roping at Sundown 22 x 30in (Painted in 1977.)

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Lot 6
Bill Owen
Roping at Sundown 22 x 30in

Sold for US$ 27,575 inc. premium
Bill Owen (1942-2013)
Roping at Sundown
signed and dated '© Bill Owen CA 1977' (lower right)
oil on canvas
22 x 30in
Painted in 1977.


  • Provenance
    Trailside Galleries, Scottsdale, Arizona and Jackson, Wyoming.
    Altermann & Morris Galleries, Dallas and Houston, Texas, no. 103.

    Artist Bill Owen was known among his peers as 'The Cowboy's Artist' and took this moniker very seriously in his life and his art. Working in a realist style, Owen's paintings and sculpture, including the present work, share a singular theme that focuses on the working cowboy. His work "depicts his own experiences on his and other cattle ranches in the Southwest" drawn from "the daily activities of ranch and cowboy life."1

    Owen was destined to become a cowboy artist: he was born in Gila Bend, Arizona to a cowboy father and an artist mother. Beginning in elementary school Owen was drawing with pastels, and worked from a young age as a cowboy at various Arizona ranches while also competing in rodeos. As a professional artist, Owen's talent for painting was recognized early, and in 1973 at age 31, he joined the Cowboy Artists of America (where he would later serve as a three-time president). He became a member of the National Academy of Western Artists in 1991, and was the recipient of many awards in his career including: the Frederic Remington Award for Exceptional Artistic Merit from the Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1993, the Rendezvous Artist award by the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1996, and Owen was the first recipient of the Express Ranches Great American Cowboy Award at the Prix de West Invitational Exhibition and Sale in 2003. In the early 1990s, Owen was a member and staff artist of the Rancheros Vistadores. Owen also received the prestigious CAA Award four times, an honor chosen by member peers to acknowledge the best overall exhibition entries.

    In 1989, a roping accident caused Owen to lose sight in his right eye. The eyesight loss affected Owen's depth perception and he stopped working in three-dimensional sculpture mediums, but he continued to create award-winning paintings. Aside from actively working and exhibiting as an artist, running his own ranches in Globe and Kirkland, Arizona, and even participating in team roping activities post-accident, philanthropy was also important to the artist. In 1995, Owen established The Arizona Cowpuncher's Scholarship Organization to pay for higher education for young people from ranching families in Arizona.

    Reflecting on Owen's approach, Michael Duty explains that Owen referred to cowboys as 'watchers' who 'always have to be aware of what is going on around them.' Duty saw Owen as 'a watcher, too, noting details of terrain, the muscle tone and temperaments of horses and cattle, the personalities of cowboys, and the inherent stories in seemingly ordinary activities. In the tradition of the working cowboy-artist, he then [turned] his careful observations into paintings."2 In paintings like Roping at Sundown, Owen takes a seemingly ordinary moment in a working cowboy's day, and elevates it to high art. A fiery sunset sky casts the detailed foreground in a golden glow, as a mounted cowboy ropes a calf in the midst of a herd of Hereford beef cattle. From a position at the back of the herd, a second cowboy observes from his mount. The distant figure is set against shadowed foothills, whose diagonal swath of blue and purple hues cut across the composition, and provide a cool visual contrast to the orange and pink dominated tones emanating from the vibrant sky.

    1 M. Duty, Cowboy Artists of America, Shelton, The Greenwich Workshop, 2002, p. 94.
    2 Ibid, p. 94.
Bill Owen (1942-2013) Roping at Sundown 22 x 30in (Painted in 1977.)
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