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Prescott, 2004

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Each year the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering in Prescott, Arizona features a contemporary Western artist's work on its Gathering poster.  Their invited poets write poems about the poster painting, and the poems are presented at sessions during the event.

The 2004 17th Annual Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering poster featured artist Shawn Cameron's painting, "Along the Santa Maria."  The gathering theme was Still Doin' Business.

 

Our thanks to Shawn Cameron and Sharlot Hall Museum Education Director and gathering organizer Warren Miller for permission to share the image.  

Below is a selection of the 2004 poster poems, and we are particularly pleased to have artist Shawn Cameron's own poem, Cactus, Sand and Stone (or Corrientes and the Cowboy).

There's information about Shawn Cameron below.  

 


Below:

Poster Poems

Information from the Gathering Program

About the Artist, Shawn Cameron

 

 

Poster Poems


Along the Santa Maria
by Shawn Cameron

 

Below:

Cactus, Sand and Stone (or Corrientes and the Cowboy) by Shawn Cameron
Drought Time Along The Santa Maria by Jane Morton
Still Doin' Business by Yvonne Hollenbeck
Still Doin' Business by Mike Dunn 
Still Doin' Business by Byrd Woodward

We welcome other participants' poems.  Email us.

 


 

Cactus, Sand and Stone
(or Corrientes and the Cowboy)

There's a wretched, wretched region
Of the cactus, sand and stone,
Where time's an endless season...
And man's spirit's free to room.

Here...the sand is but a whisper
Floating swift across the land
Sharing secrets with saguaros
Who stand sentinel and grand.

It celebrates the barrels
Who bloom through discontent...
For they are born survivors
And stay true to their intent.

In this hot and prickly region
Of the cactus, sand and stone
The eastern sky is warming
As a horseman rides alone.

In the coolness of the hour
He sets hoof upon the ground...
Striding long across a landscape
As far melodies resound.

The mourning dove is cooin'
And the gambel quail now call
To the coyote who is wailing...
At the magic of it all.

The horseman, now, is leaning
As he trots along the trail...
Watching close...and waiting...
For the signs that will not fail.

The branches that are broken...
And the imprints in the sand
Will tell the tale of cattle
Who, here, have taken stand.

Soon...all's quiet in the desert
And the songs of sunrise cease
No sound is heard descending
As the canyon walls increase.

Now...a splash of color casting
In the shadows dark and dim
Below the beaned mesquite trees...
Underneath the canyon's rim.

There...sheltered from sensations
Of a sultry, smoldering sky
Stand the horned and painted legends
Of historic tales gone by.

They are survivors of the desert
A mere mystery of the land,
Whose beauty's as deceptive
As the sparking, sunlit sand.

There's a toughness to the spirit
And yet a sinewed grace
In these cattle of the cowboy
That in dwell this desert place.

The cowboy's found his purpose...
Where the granite spheres are shear
And the water trickles downward
Toward grasses growing near.

In this wanting, writhing region
Of the crucifixion thorn
There are souls that share a secret...
Here a kindred spirit's born.

Corrientes and the cowboy
Rooted deep in mystery lore
Share the secret of the desert
To survive...a season more.

© 2004,  Shawn Cameron
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

Visit Shawn Cameron's web site, shawncameronart.com

 

 

Drought Time Along The Santa Maria

The river flows by me the same as the years--
More'n half of them spent raisin' heifers and steers.

Since this drought's come along, river's slowed to a trickle,
And likewise my profits; I'm squeezin' each nickel.

Hopes build with the clouds that come up every day,
But they're dashed before nightfall as clouds slip away.

If there's one thing I've learned from the droughts of the past,
It's forecasters can't tell me how long each might last.

Weather worries have deepened the lines on my face,
Now it's landscaped with furrows and draws like my place.

Though my poor corrientes have asked me for little,
They can't live on grasses gone way beyond brittle.

So I'm cuttin' back my cow/calf operation,
And cullin' the herd to get through the duration.

I'm bunchin' the rest, and I'm movin' them out,
Savin' nucleus stock until rains end the drought.

This harsh land, sparse at best, is most always hard-pressed,
But at times such as this it becomes sorely stressed.

Hunkerin' down and conservin's my key to survival,
Along with some prayers for the monsoon's arrival.


© 2004,  Jane Morton 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Read more of Jane Morton's poetry here.

 

 

Still Doin' Business

That old Longhorn steer had been gone for a year;
those two dries were missin' last spring;
I rated quite fair when I found that lost pair
and that calf's sure a good little thing.

It's hard in the fall to gather 'em all
...Santa Maria country is rough;
and spending my days a-gatherin' strays
sometimes can be pretty tough.

There darned sure is snakes in those deep river breaks
and the wolves have taken their share;
that river's quick-sand can get any hand
into trouble if he ventures there.

When you tally your loss, it'd be easy to toss
yer' hat in and head down the road;
but findin' these strays, just might save the day
and darn sure will lighten your load.

I sure wouldn't swap any folks what they got
for the life that I'm livin' out here;
and bringin' in strays is one way to say
I'll be still doin' business next year.

© 2004, Yvonne Hollenbeck
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Read more of Yvonne Hollenbeck's poetry here.

 

 

Still Doin' Business

There's a picture framed and prominently hung

    for all the guests to see.

Depicting a cowboy moving stock,

    once a familiar chore to me.

A figure captured by the artist's hand,

    no tellin' if he's young or old.

A scene, it seems lost in dreams,

    patient for its story to be told.

In thought, I recalled with pleasure,

    times I'd be riding along.

With mind on keep'um settled,

    while humming or singing a song.

Up west of the old San Pedro,

    now a trickle of a stream,

Where mesquite, sage, and prickly pear,

    are the makings for this cowboy's dream.

I'm thinking... it could well be Grandpa,

    so many years I have not seen.

Could be an uncle, brother or cousin,

    but selfishly... I wish it were me.

There's a mama cow, a month old calf,

    along with three corriente steers.

I can hear that cowboy thinkin',

    we may break even this year.

Brings to mind a compadre, Bob Straub,

    pushing Boquillas cattle along.

Sitting at ease, purpose in task.

    right where a cowboy belongs.

Pushin'um to fresher pasture, or from...

    a mud hole of a tank that's gone dry.

Bringing'um in to check and sort'um...

    or maybe to market for buyers to buy.

Could just as well be the ranch's owner

    or a cowboy working for day-pay.

A cowboy that's still doin' business.

    still in the cowboy way.

Where the homestead meets the mountains,

    and high desert meets the stream,

Pushin'um up a dry wash,

    a picture that once held me.

Ya say, I see more then what's on the canvas?

    Yes, there's a glimpse of what was once real.

A life and time I left behind, then.

    cress-crossed in memory's trail.

A memory that asks, could I once more.

    step back a half century tending cattle?

With Grandpa headin', me a heelin',

    tied hard to my old working saddle?

In a draw coming up from the flat lands,

    a ways east of Castanera Springs,

Leading to a well and old corral,

    that's the image my memory brings.

Guess I'm still doin' business,

    stuck in an old cowboy dream.

Where ties are strong & your word's a bond,

    ...in a painting can't be seen.

Well... thanks to the artist for the painting,

    and to the Lord for cowboys to be.

And thanks for loved ones, family and friends,

    and a heritage that's included me.

© 2004, Mike Dunn 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

 

Read more of Mike Dunn's poetry here.

 

 

Still Doin' Business

I'm out here this mornin' with the blue hills behind me...
There's only a few stragglers to gather up now.
There's not a sign of th' rain we're needin' so badly...
I'm waterin' dead grass with th' sweat off my brow.

This old place has sure turned into a one-loop outfit...
I've culled th' herd down now as far as I can...
That bony brindle cow tells th' Rafter 4's story...
It's 'bout th' same size now as when I first began.

Dreamin' of Lily spends most all my slack time...
Keepin' her faith was so easy to do.
We knew from th' first dance that we'd be together...
Ev'ry woman but her simply faded from view.

Her yellow roses were in bloom.I toted th' water
From th' well in th' same bucket she always used...
I still smell them biscuits when I walk in th' kitchen
And I long for a taste of her venison stew.

I rode into Bagdad early yesterday mornin'...
Had some business in town that I had to do...
Them 'ol boys in the suits didn't have any good news;
But they did have more hoops for me to jump through.

Ate supper at th' café then rode across Main Street...
To see friendly faces that weren't lookin' so glum.
I'd got my dauber down, is th' truth, if I tell it...
After wigglin' 'round under that college kid's thumb.

Hollered, "Howdy-do, boys.need to wet down my whistle
I've spent the whole day practicin' bein' polite..."
Lily swore I'd trained my pony to stop at th' Past-Time...
An' like about most things, she was near always right.

"What's that ya askin', Pete?. yeah. it's been dry out my way,
Ain't had a drop I recall. since the last part of June...
Spent danged near all day with the boys at th' bank here,
Tryin' t' hold off the worst 'til we get some monsoon...

"Them fellers over there think they've dealt me my last card,
That I'll throw in the hand and ride off of this range...
But the day I do that, I'll be straddlin' a pine box.
They'll be bankin' dry bones for my land in exchange.

"'Well, Jesse. I raised that house an' both of my boys there,
Carried the woman I loved over that new door sill...
It's been fifty-four years workin' both cattle an' horses...
I ain't givin' up over that dad-blamed bank bill.

"Do any of you recall the day that I married?.
Guess probably not...none of you've lived long enough...
The promise I made her was we'd stay side-by-side there...
Said the life she was getting was bound to be tough.

"Both our boys finished high school an' went down to Phoenix...
Holdin' on to each other we stood there an' cried.
I told Lily they'd never come home to a dead ranch...
In case either of 'em ever did change his mind.

"Let's see.my Lily's been gone close onto twelve years now...
I planted two pecan trees above where she lays...
Most evenins I'm out there and the two of us visit.
Sittin' in the moonlight...yellow roses ablaze...

"You town folks ain't catchin' what I'm tryin' t' tell ya'...
Askin' how can I do it... in spite of it all...
Us cowhands don't live our lives like any others...
I stay out there alone, boys... because of it all...

(sung*)
'I'm an Arizona cowboy an' I ride the arid plains;
My trade is girtin' saddles, boys, and pullin' bridle reins,
I can dip th' lasso.it is with graceful ease...
I'll rope a streak of lightin' an' ride it where I please.

Ki-yi-yippee-yippee-ay
Ki-yi-yippee-yippee-ay!

I'll trail the Corrientes 'til Gabriel blows his horn...'

© 2004, Byrd Woodward 
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author's written permission.

*Last stanza from the Gillette Brothers' CD titled Lone Star Trail, with apologies for the slight changes in wording

Read more of Byrd Woodward's poetry here.

 

 


Yvonne Hollenbeck shared this photo of some of the poets at one of the poster poem sessions.

Pictured from left: artist Shawn Cameron, Tom Weathers; Yvonne Hollenbeck; Ken Graydon; Mike Dunn; Bunny Dryden; Everett Long; Lee Brimhall, and host Mary Abbott

photo courtesy of Yvonne Hollenbeck


From the 2004 Gathering Program

About the cover ...

This year's commemorative art-print poster and the cover of this program feature a painting by local artist Shawn Cameron.  The original painting hangs in the lobby of the Country Bank at 107 E. Willis Street in Prescott.

Shawn is not only an extremely talented artist, but also a rancher and a cowboy poet.  She comes from a ranching heritage that runs through many generations.  Her paternal grandparents drove cattle down the Oregon Trail into Northern Arizona in the 1870s to establish ranches, schools, and stores in Northern Arizona. Her maternal grandparents arrived in Southern Arizona during that same period and founded cattle ranches, businesses, and Indian trading posts.  

While her family continues to make their living ranching in the northern regions of Arizona, Shawn expresses her love for this heritage through poetry and painting.  Her art studio, near her turn-of-the-century rock ranch  house overlooking the canyons of the Verde River north of Prescott, Arizona, is as full of memories as her poetry, and in sharing those gifts, she is able to do more than her part to preserve the rich heritage found in her family tree.  

She has exhibited her work in numerous shows and exhibits but is most proud of her invitation to participate in the 2003 Prix de West Art Show in Oklahoma City.  She was included in the 2001 exhibit at the Desert Caballeros Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona, entitled A Century of Arizona Woman Artists.  He work can be seen at the Legacy Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and the El Paseo Gallery in Cody Wyoming, and Palm Desert, California.

As in the past, the poets have been asked to look at the painting and to set the stories they see in the form of poems.  Sessions of these Poster Poems will be presented Saturday at 9:00 AM and 10:00 AM in the Bashford House.  The artist will be present and will sign personal copies of the poster afterward in the Gathering Cowboy Mercantile sales area.

Shawn Cameron  has graciously allowed us to reproduce her painting, "Along the Santa Maria," and has been very supportive of the Gathering. 


About the Artist, Shawn Cameron
(updated October, 2011)

Like many in her field, Shawn is considered an accomplished professional in the arena of Western Art but her roots run deeper than most when it comes to subject matter. Her work is a passionate reflection of what she knows personally, Western ranch life.

Her family's involvement in the state's cattle business began over 135 years ago. Both sides of her family are Arizona pioneers. Her paternal great-grandfather, James Henry Wingfield, his father, two brothers and their families used oxen to pull their covered wagons west on the Oregon Trail, then traveled south with horse drawn wagons to Arizona crossing the Colorado River with 200 head of cattle in 1875. They settled in the area of Camp Verde. A family brand registered by them in 1885 is reportedly one of the state’s oldest on file.

Her maternal grandfather, John Osborne, rode horseback to Arizona from Kansas in 1908. He obtained work near Globe at the largest ranch in Arizona, the Chiricahua Cattle Company, better known as the "Cherrycows." He moved to general manager in 1915. He eventually owned several ranches and in 1961 was honored as Cattleman of the Year by the Arizona Cattlegrowers Association. That legacy continues as Shawn and Dean’s children carry ranching into the fifth generation.

She credits the Lord, a lifelong love affair with art and a unique family heritage for her perspective of the west. Possessing a deep appreciation for the true cowboy, the elements of his world become an inspiration for her work. There is nobility about him. As Poet Utah Phillips wrote about the cowboy, “If dirt were a kingdom, then he would be king.”

Artistic talent manifested itself at an early age and art education was provided through formal and informal settings. Several mentors were influential but the early encouragement of Joe Beeler, Bill Owen and Robert “Shoofly” Shufelt proved valuable. Others she has studied with include: Jim Wilcox, Dan Robinson, Bill Anton, Mark Daily, Jim Norton CAA, Ron Riddick CAA, Matt Smith, Martin Grelle CAA, Bruce Greene CAA, and sculptor, John Coleman. Her primary medium is oil but she has worked in pencil, watercolor, pastel and clay.

While raising her children on the ranch, she obtained a Bachelors of Education with a minor in Written Expression, yet art remained her first love. She had come to a fork in the road requiring a career decision. It was Dean who provided the counsel, strength and courage she needed to travel the uncharted course of her artistic development. He remains a major source of encouragement and support. After many years in the art world she retains the heart of a student whose goal is continual improvement.

A water tower remodeled into a modern studio near their home, sits on the banks of the Verde River north of Prescott, Arizona. Horses are within a few feet of her door and provide an opportunity to sketch and paint from life. These studies are then taken indoors as painting resources. Material is gathered on family ranches. Her studio paintings include men and livestock with vital connections to the contemporary ranching scene. Her family is often part of this story. Because of her intimate relationship to the animals and cowboys, she takes pride in portraying them accurately.

Several publications have featured Shawn's work including Southwest Art, Western Art Collector, Art of the West and Western Horseman. Her paintings have served as the covers of Equine Art and Western Horseman. The Arizona Cowpuncher's Rodeo and Prescott Cowboy Poetry Gathering are among those that have used her paintings on their posters.

Art Shows she's participated in include the Prix de West at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Heart of the West at the National Cowgirl Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas; Cowgirl Up! at the Desert Caballeros Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona and honored as the co-featured artist at the C.M. Russell Auction in Great Falls, Montana. Shawn won her first professional art awards early in her career. In 1992 she received the Phippen Family Award and Second in drawing at the Phippen Memorial Western Art Show. Her work has been recognized in a variety of venues but one she's especially honored by is the 2007 Cowgirl Up! “Artist’s Choice Award.” Her paintings can be seen in Trailside Galleries in Scottsdale, Arizona and Jackson, Wyoming and Tierney Fine Art in Bozeman, Montana.

 

Find more at shawncameronart.com which includes her blog.


 

The 2002 Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering poster featured "Spellbound," a painting by Bill Anton, who was also the cover artist of our anthology, The Big Roundup.  See our feature and a selection of poster poems from 2002 here.

 

 

 

 

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