Cowboy Artists of America Trail Ride
There are some things that never change on the Kokernot O6 Ranch, where more than 400,000 acres traverse and weave through jagged precipices, deep canyons and lush native grasses across Jeff Davis, Pecos and Brewster counties in West Texas, and one of those is the sound of the remuda galloping straight up a narrow path en route to the early spring gather followed by a set of cowboys, ages ranging from 11 to 50. It’s music to the ears of Chris Lacy, who owns the ranch along with his three sisters, just as it was music to the ears of his great-great-grandfather David L. Kokernot, who acquired the O6 brand in 1837 after serving as a scout for Sam Houston during the Battle of San Jacinto.
This year, Lacy and the ranch cowboys were joined by the Cowboy Artists of America as part of the organization’s annual trail ride. It’s also a tradition. Something the group has done since its earliest days when Charlie Dye, Joe Beeler By Joshua Rose and John Hampton rode and roped on George Douglas’ ranch near Magdalena, Mexico, in the northern state of Sonora in the fall of 1964. However, do not get fooled by the term trail ride. A trail ride brings to mind images of people on horseback leisurely sauntering across wide open spaces taking in the scenery and stopping for lunch by a pleasant rushing creek. For the Cowboy Artists when it comes to this year on the O6 Ranch, a trail ride means waking up at 5 a.m. and then galloping at incredibly fast paces across brush and rock and dirt, rounding up (i.e., finding and chasing) lost calves and cattle, narrowly dodging horns and bringing in insurgents who have been hiding in the vast spaces of this enormous ranch sometimes as long as four years and don’t really appreciate have a rope thrown at them let alone being captured.
The trail ride was organized by somewhat newly minted member Teal Blake who has worked on the O6 ranch as a cowboy on past round ups and is equal part artist and cowboy just as the name suggests and just as the holy trinity of Dye, Beeler and Hampton had in mind just over 50 years ago. And, for the first time in the history of the group, Blake has also organized a sale of plein air work that was started and sometimes finished on this year’s ride.
For the sale, each artist—painters and sculptors—who went on this year’s trail ride will submit up to two small works and those works will be available on July 11, 2018, at 11 a.m. via the CA website, www.cowboyartistsofamerica.com. It will be a fixed sale and work will sell first come, first served. Art will be available by Martin Grelle, Bruce Greene, Grant Redden, Jason Rich, Loren Entz, Phil Epp, Mikel Donahue, Tyler Crow, Wayne Baize, Clark Kelley Price, Oreland Joe, Paul Moore, Jason Scull and Dustin Payne.
Artist groups are something of a rarity these
days. They typically eagerly get started, have a couple of strong years and then gradually dissolve. Even the famed Taos Society of Artists lasted only a decade. So it is no small feat that the CA has endured 53 solid years and is still going strong. Much of this has to do with the friendships and familial bonds that exists within the group. Friendships that grow strong from events like the trail ride, where the artists work together, cowboy together, paint together, eat together and then, most importantly, talk together. And by talking I mean really talking—sitting in a circle exchanging stories with one another for hours each day. It’s these bonds which have held the group together for all these years and will continue to do so far off into the future.
Look for an extended article on this year’s trail ride in the October 2018 issue of the magazine.
Painter Teal Blake, right, with several other riders, young and old.