(Photo of bronze by Brian Wilhite)

Bruce Walter began sculpting when he was 60. Asked why, he replies, "I was frustrated by the bad cowboy art I kept seeing." He was raised in Montana and says he has pretty well made a living with a pair of bridle reins in his hand. "God gave me the chance to spend my life cowboying, owning and managing ranches and feedlots. Sculpting gives me a way to relive the experiences I've had with other cowboys, their horses and livestock over the years."

These days, Walter does his art and his ranching in California's Sierra foothills, not far from Yosemite National Park. He thinks too few Americans today understand the fundamental role of industries that use and renew the land, especially agriculture. That's why his art includes pieces like the sculpture "The Old Enemy Returns."

"When I saw the dramatic reduction of all wildlife, and the livestock permits not being used because of wolves, I was motivated to make a statement for the good old mother cow being attacked by three wolves who have killed her calf. No amount of money can comfort anyone who has spent a lifetime caring for livestock, and finds that the 'old enemy' has returned."

Bruce Walter's art can be seen online at www.realranchsculptures.com, or contact him at Real Ranch Sculptures, 33476 Comstock Circle, Coarsegold, CA 93614; telephone: 559-658-5447; fax: 559-658-8477. E-mail: bruce@realranchsculptures.com. His art will also be displayed at the Backcountry Horsemen of California Rendezvous, Santa Maria (CA) Fairgrounds, March 12-14, 2004, and at the 2004 Cattlemen's Western Art Show, California Mid-State Fairgrounds, Paso Robles, CA, April 2-3, 2004.

(Photo of bronze 

by C.J. Hadley)

California artist Bernard Dowling’s day job, necessary to keep the ranch and his family whole and healthy, has also kept him, until now, from following up his sculpture and painting of the subjects he loves most: those found on and near the family ranch. The bronze calf pictured was executed as part of a run of some 30 casts nearly 25 years ago, says Dowling, and he’s itching to get back to his easel and sculpture studio. He now wants to concentrate on the dramatic changes wrought in the West by government and environmentalist activities.

As Dowling talks of where his art will go next, it’s clear that he is frustrated by the politics and beliefs that are rapidly combining with the relentless economics of ranching to make it even less sustainable in California, as elsewhere. The bronze calf comes from a period in the nation’s life in which few could have imagined that, someday, cowboy artists would find themselves using their talent and skill not only to celebrate the ranching life of the past and present, but to do what they can to ensure that it survives into the future.

"My dream and my commitment is to be both an artist and a rancher, to produce art that is great and true."

Bernard Dowling can be reached at 530-467-3601. The "Let’s Ride" Horse Program is from Siskiyou County Behavioral Health Access Team: 530-841-4286.

Summer 2004 Contents

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