The National Western Stock Show is held every year in Denver during January. It is one of the premiere events for purveyors of livestock, supplies, rodeo gear and all sort of Western Wear. It is the site of the Coors Western Art show which displays some of the finest western artists around. Pictures can typically go for as much as $10,000. When we go we always visit the art show. This year saw some old faces such as Barbara Van Cleve :
Barbara Van Cleve’s heritage is rich with family history and firsthand experience. Her family’s ranch, the Lazy K Bar, was founded in 1880 on the east slopes of the Crazy Mountains near Melville, Montana. Her father, Spike Van Cleve, was a unique combination of writer, poet, Harvard scholar, and expert horseman-and “a pure quill Montanan,” as her father once put it.
As a photographer, she has held a camera since she was 11 years old when her parents gave her a “Brownie” camera and a home developing kit. Her youthful interest in photography soon grew into a lifelong commitment. Ranch work also began early for Barbara. Barely six, she could be found helping at the corrals or sitting astride a horse. Ever since she has been documenting the “true grit” and romantic beauty of her experiences on the ranch and on other ranches in the West.
Along the way, she earned an MA in English Literature at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois; she has been a Dean of Women at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois; and she taught English Literature, and later photography, for over 25 winters at DePaul University, Loyola University and Mundelein College, all in the Chicago area. At the same time photography continued to be a passionate avocation. In her free time, she worked for Rand McNally as a textbook photographer and also established her own stock photography agency. The long summers were usually spent on the family ranch in Montana.
New artists to me were Laura Wilson:
Laura Wilson is a photographer whose work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ Magazine, English Vogue, London’s Sunday Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Marie Claire and Texas Monthly.
Wilson has done four books. Her latest, Avedon at Work, documents one of the great photographers of the twentieth century. Wilson was Richard Avedon’s assistant for six years and her photographs and journal entries show Avedon’s creative process, working methods, and range of subjects as he worked to complete, In the American West. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center/University of Texas Press October 2003).
Yale University Press published Hutterites of Montana: photographs and text by Laura Wilson (Fall 2000). Winner: Book of the Year, Carr P. Collins Award, Texas Institute of Letters 2001. Winner: Golden Light Book of the Year Award, Maine Photographic Workshops 2001. David McCullough, the historian, said “A book such as this - a book so clearly and genuinely extraordinary comes along rarely and only as a result of exceptional skill and dedication.”