The Art of the Cowgirl Event is a gathering to celebrate cowgirls and their contributions to western lifestyle and culture and to raise funds to support up and coming artists to expand their knowledge and skills via fellowships with master artists in their field.
The 2021 Art of the Cowgirl Event will celebrate, gather and connect western women around horses and western art and will feature female makers, including master artists, silversmiths, braiders, saddlemakers and horsewomen.
These master artists come from diverse backgrounds, but all share a love for the West and the cowgirl spirit.
COLT STARTING & MASTER HORSEWOMAN
Lee Smith lives on a cattle ranch near Estancia, New Mexico. She and her husband, Mark, have a cow-calf operation and raise quality Quarter Horses at their Harmony Hills Ranch.
For more than 40 years, Lee has traveled the world sharing what she believes to be the “Essential Elements of Horsemanship” with people who wish to learn about quality horsemanship and stockmanship. She has conducted hundreds of clinics and demonstrations, as well as teaching ranch horse classes at the Diamond S.
Lee considers herself a student of the horse, and says she’s lucky to have shared her experience with thousands of horse enthusiasts from around the globe.
A gifted and eloquent teacher, Lee has extraordinary insight into both horses and people. She shares what she sees as if speaking for the horse, and provides her students with the opportunity to observe the communication exchange between horse and human — teaching people how to learn from the horse.
Lee leads people on a pathway of discovery to the essential elements of horsemanship. She helps them unlock their potential to understand the horse’s mind, body and spirit; and then shows them how to appreciate and build upon the incredible moments of harmony that are possible. Lee believes that through life’s experiences (horse related or not), the answers lie within us.
MASTER SADDLE MAKER
Nancy Martiny is a second-generation leatherworker and fourth-generation rancher from Idaho.
Following in her father’s footsteps, who made purses, belts and wallets for friends and family (and eventually built himself a saddle), Nancy learned the basics of carving leather from him while in high school. She was soon making belts for friends, and a lifelong passion was born.
In 1987, Nancy received two saddle trees as a gift from her husband, and had the great honor of receiving lessons from Master Saddlemaker Dale Harwood. Armed with a notebook, she would visit Dale’s shop over the course of several months to observe his work and receive guidance from the master.
After building the first saddle for herself, and the next one for her kids, she started getting orders from friends, and a thirty-year career began. She continued her education over the years by attending workshops and studying the work of past and current masters of the art.
Nancy has always worked from her home shop, while simultaneously raising her family and helping with the family rodeo business and ranch. She currently lives with her husband, Jim, on their 130-year-old family ranch, where they raise beef cattle and enjoy passing their knowledge on to their grandchildren.
MASTER BRAIDER & HORSE HAIR HITCHER
Teresa Black of Plush, Oregon, is an expert in rawhide braiding and horse hair hitching.
Originally exposed to leather work, Teresa discovered rawhide braiding in 2000 when she met Bill Black, renowned western gear maker. They were married 2001, and soon after, Bill began teaching Teresa the art of braiding a reata and she has been braiding ever since.
Their daughter, Montana, was born in 2004 and is also starting to braid and do leather work. Teresa has established herself as a talented horsewoman, artist and maker in the western industry.
MASTER BOOT MAKER
Kelly Martin’s bootmaking journey can be traced back to ranches and leather shops throughout the western U.S.
Her dad, George, bought a shoe repair shop in the early 70s and began building boots for working cowboys in the early 80s, in addition to his own saddles, chaps and other leather goods when he wasn’t working as a cowboy. The shop moved with every new cowboy job he took.
Kelly’s mom, Sharron, worked alongside her dad in the leather shop, building chinks, purses, and belts. She stitched all of the boot tops, and her dad designed the cowboy half sole they put on their boots.
Kelly says her dad’s knowledge and support helped her earn her place in the bootmaker’s trade. She built her first solo pair of boots in 1990.
“I grew up working side-by-side with cowboys,” Kelly says. “I understand what they need to do their job because I’ve been in their boots — working cows, branding calves, making a living in a saddle.”
Kelly puts a lot of time into each pair of boots, using only top-of-the-line, quality materials. Her goal is to make something unique for everyone, so the design part of building boots is her favorite. She’s very proud of the fact that she has many longtime customers who return year-after-year to repair worn out boots or order a new pair for both dress and work.
Today, Kelly is based out of Battle Mountain, Nevada, where she lives with her husband, Josh McManus, and her dad.
Her daughter, Tasha Mashburn, and granddaughters, Gracie and Jorja, live just down the road. When she’s not busy at the shop, Kelly is at junior rodeos cheering them on. Her granddaughters also spend a lot of time in her shop, and she hopes one day they will be interested in taking up the bootmaker’s trade.
Kelly’s son, Monte Greene, lives in Sand Hollow, Idaho, with his wife, Jessie; son, Wyatt; and daughter, Sharron. Monte’s kids are pretty young now, but Kelly says that she hopes as they get older, they will spend time in the shop and that she can follow them on their rodeo trails, as well.
Amy Raymond is a ranching mom of two boys, Pace (15) and Colter (12). They love riding, roping and spending time gathering cattle with their parents. Amy and her husband run cows for his fifth-generation ranch in eastern Oregon.
“I became a silversmith because it gave me the freedom to raise my children and help around the ranch,” Amy says. “Being a silversmith fulfilled my need to build cowboy gear and art with my hands. I also love to make out-of-the-box things in addition to the usual belt buckles and spurs. For example, my fun, one-of-a kind earrings; Thistle Hat pin; and Let Er Buck pendent.”
Amy got her start on her silversmithing journey by working with ring builder Travis Stringer. As the years passed, she wanted to progress to the next level. To learn more about making bits and spurs, she worked with local reputable makers, Hugh Coffelt and Jim Baltzor.
Knowing there is no end to what you can learn in this craft, Amy wanted to keep pushing her skills and artistic style. She hit a point in her journey where she felt stagnate and needed to push to the next level. That’s when she sought out masters in the trade.
Amy trained with Cowgirl Hall of Fame inductee and master engraver Diane Scalese; and world-renowned bit and spur maker Ernie Marsh, both great teachers.
“I think of myself as a sponge,” Amy says. “If people are willing to teach me, I love to learn.”
For the last eight years, Amy has headed up the Pendleton Cattle Barons Bit, Spur and Engraving Contest. She also teaches classes with maker and silversmith, The Classy Trailer – Jill Skinner.
“My personal goal is continuing to develop my skills, making and engraving techniques; keep my designs fresh and exciting, and teach people all that I know,” Amy says.
Lindy Burch began blazing trails in 1980 when she captured the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Open Futurity Championship with a record 225.5 points on Mis Royal Mahogany. The victory was unprecedented in more ways than one, as she was the first woman in the sport’s history to win the prestigious event.
The previous year, Lindy had become the first woman to claim the title of NCHA Open Futurity Reserve Champion. To this day, she remains the only woman to have earned that distinction. In addition, she is one of only six open riders that have earned back-to-back NCHA Open Futurity titles in the event’s 50 year history.
Lindy shook down the thunder once again, when she marked a historic 233 at the 1998 NCHA Open World Finals — a score that was not to be topped for some 13 years. Bet Yer Blue Boons, her mount, was a mare that Lindy had raised and trained. Three years earlier, riding another homegrown mare, Shesa Smarty Lena, she had become the first rider in history to win all four go-round of the NCHA Open World Finals.
In 2000, Lindy marked another singular accomplishment, as the first woman to win the NCHA Open World Championship. She claimed the title on Bet Yer Blue Boons, while once again wining the NCHA Open World Finals.
Raised in Chino, California, Lindy grew up riding a horse the way most kids ride bikes. As a teenager, she competed in gymkhana events and got her first taste of cutting with a local trainer, who taught her the mechanics of the sport.
Intent on a career in veterinary medicine, Lindy majored in zoology at UCLA and received her master’s degree in endocrinology. While studying for her doctorate, she began competing in local cutting events and soon found herself with a small stable of show horses, including Diamond Mystery, the horse she rode to Reserve Champion of the 1979 NCHA Open Futurity.
While she was showing Diamond Mystery, Lindy conducted a cutting clinic for the staff of the Oxbow Ranch, owned by Dan Lufkin, co-founder of the famous Wall Street firm of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenerette. Lindy and Lufkin ultimately formed a partnership that saw Oxbow Ranch become a leader among cutting horse owners and breeders.
By the late 1980s, with 170 horses under her direction, Lindy was dividing her time between the Oxbow Ranch in Carmel, California, and Oxbow South in Weatherford, Texas. Then in 1995, with the goal of focusing on a small, elite group of broodmares — including Bet Yer Blue Boons — and their offspring, Lindy designed and built her own facility in Weatherford.
To date, Lindy hasn’t quit setting milestones. She was elected NCHA president in 2000, becoming the first and, as yet, only female leader in the organization’s 72-year history. Prior to that, she was the first woman to serve as president of the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association (PCCHA).
Ranked among cutting’s all-time leading money earners, with more than $4 million earned to date, Lindy has not missed an NCHA Futurity since she first performed at Fort Worth in 1978 and has been an Open Finalist or Semi Finalist most years.
Currently, Lindy chairs the NCHA Horse and Cattle Welfare Task Force. She serves on the NCHA Finance and Limited Age Event Committees; the AQHA Horse Research Committee; the CSU Equine Orthopedic Research Committee; and she also serves as the annual voice of the Careity Foundation – Cancer Care – Celebrity Cutting during the NCHA Futurity, as well as the NCHA Sponsors’ Cutting during the Summer Spectacular.
In 2001, Lindy was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, one of the many honors she has received, as well as inclusion in the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, the NCHA Riders Hall of Fame, the NCHA Members Hall of Fame, the PCCHA Members Hall of Fame, the PCCHA Trainers Award and the PCCHA Ed Smith Memorial Sportsmanship Award.
Deborah Copenhaver Fellows was born and raised on a cattle and Quarter Horse ranch in northern Idaho.
Her father, a World Champion Bronc Rider, supported the family with his winnings. She and her younger brother, Jeff, grew up on the ranch often alone with their mother. Work on the ranch was shared by all, and a lifelong passion for horses grew from those responsibilities. It was at this time that Deborah sold her first drawings of horses.
Competition was a way of life for the Copenhaver family. Deborah won barrel races before she was a teenager and was a member of the Girls Rodeo Association. She had her first racehorse at twelve. Deborah spent her first year of college at Washington State University, where she earned a full scholarship. That same year, Deborah won the competition to become Miss Rodeo Washington and was Runner-Up Miss Rodeo America.
Her second year of college she transferred to Fort Wright College of the Holy Names in Spokane, Washington. Here she met a nun, Sister Paula Mary Turnbull, who taught sculpture. Deborah received a bachelor of fine arts degree with a fine art major, following study in Italy where her passion for sculpture came alive and continues today.
At 19, she sculpted her first commissioned bronze for the city of Spokane, James Glover. She also successfully owned and operated her own business Classic Interiors; an experience that honed her business skills.
Despite her success in the business world, the horses called — she and her brother loaded their horses and left Washington to compete in the winter rodeo circuit. By the second go-round of Houston and no winnings, Deborah loaded both horses and headed for Phoenix with just enough money to get to a friend’s ranch in Chandler.
During this stay she went to Prescott and met Ernie Phippen, who ran a western art foundry. Her world came together. She went back home, gathered all her belongings and returned to Prescott to get a job as a head wrangler in a dude ranch. That year, she cast her first bronze and started her art career. Jeff won the last go-round at Houston and went on to win the World’s Championship.
Within four years, Deborah was commissioned by Gonzaga University to sculpt a monument of Bing Crosby. The project took her to Queens, New York, to Roman Bronze Works, the foundry that cast bronzes by Charlie Russell and Frederick Remington’s bronzes. This was the first of many monuments that she would create.
It was during this period Deborah married and had her only child, Fabienne. “My greatest life’s accomplishment,” according to Deborah.
In the post-Vietnam era, Deborah won competitions to create veteran memorials including the Inland Northwest Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Montana State Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Washington State Korean War Memorial.
She also received commissions to do monuments of Henry Kaiser, James Irvine, Frank Erwin of the University of Texas and created a monument for The Boy Scouts of America.
In 2012, she won the competition and was commissioned by the state of Arizona to create a monumental bronze of Barry Goldwater for Statuary Hall in Washington D.C. In 2016, Deborah created a monumental bust of William P Clark, California Superior Court Judge for Rancheros Visitadores in Santa Ynez, California. In 2017, San Antonia Sculpture Trail LLC commissioned a monumental sculpture of Jim Bowie for the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas.
Deborah has returned to her original inspiration source, the American West. Living now in southern Arizona with her husband, Fred Fellows, Deborah is devoted to creating fresh, original and accomplished sculptures, which express her heartfelt feelings for the western way of life. Surrounded by splendid southwestern scenery and a string of good horses, she is assured an ample source of inspiration for a lifetime.
MASTER FINE ARTIST
Born in Texas and raised in Arizona, Lynn Brown grew up going to rodeos and team ropings with her father and eventually married into a ranching family.
Now back in Texas, she is committed full-time to her art. Her work has been exhibited in many shows throughout the West. Many of her paintings have also been chosen for event posters including the Santa Clarita Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, Arizona Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival, A Tribute to Chris LeDoux, PRCA Rodeo and “Home on the Ranch” a tribute to ranching women.
Most recently, Lynn had the privilege of being commissioned in 2019 to do the poster artwork for the Reno Rodeo’s 100th year anniversary celebration.
Lynn’s watercolors of old-time cowgirls are loved by many, but her much larger portfolio encompasses ranch life and the West by striving to capture the day-to-day life of the working cowboy and the horse.
Lynn believes that art should bring pleasure to the viewer and capture a moment in time: “Scenes and scenery change, people change, but art can hold you there always, as you remember it or as you wish to…”
The 2021 Art of the Cowgirl event will take place January 13th-17th, 2021 at Horseshoe Park and Equestrian Center in Queen Creek, Arizona.
Buy your tickets now! Visit artofthecowgirl.com for more information.