Annual Event Showcases Western Art
By Melissa Mendonca
Photo by Studio 530 Photography
There’s a science to breeding the bulls, geldings and working stock dogs that arrive at the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale each year. There’s also an art involved in the ranching lifestyle, and it, too, has found its place at the annual event.
Now in its fourth year, the Western Art Show that has developed at the long-standing event is attracting art lovers as well as ranchers involved in the cattle industry.
“There are a lot of really talented artists in this area and it’s amazing to me the different types of art we have in this 300-mile area,” says show organizer Jane Daugherty, of Vina.
Western art includes traditional mediums such as painting, photography and sculpture, but expands also to fine craftsmanship of everyday tools of the ranching trade. Silver and leather can be as important in Western art as paint or a camera.
There’s an adage that “good cowboys have good gear,” says Daugherty. They “may live in a shack” but they’ll have good gear and good horses, she says. “Cowboys like pretty stuff that is usable,” she says with a smile. For that reason, along with the fine art on display, visitors will also see exquisite examples of reins, spurs and saddles.
Daugherty and her husband, Button, a board director of the Bull Sale, spent many years organizing the youth activities raffle of the Bull and Gelding Sale, a project which generates thousands of dollars. Seeking a new way to contribute, Daugherty thought up the art show. “I’m nuts, but it’s fun,” says the 73-year-old who also manages a commercial cattle operation with Button.
“We’re not a big outfit, but we’re quality,” says Daugherty of their ranch. The couple has been married 43 years, and Daugherty says, “He imported me.” They met at a party in Virginia, where Daugherty is from, and where Button was stationed as part of the Presidential Honor Guard working with the Army’s team of Caisson horses which served in funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.
When they moved back to Button’s area of California after getting married, Daugherty was introduced to the world of cattle ranching and the true Western lifestyle. Today she promotes Western heritage through activism with the Tehama County Cattlewomen and as the Western Art Show Coordinator.
To get started four years ago, Daugherty says, “I just started calling people. By now she has grown a show that includes around 150 pieces of art from artists across the North State and from as far as Alaska, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado.
“I love the Western art,” says Daugherty. “I don’t think there are enough outlets for it, but I’m finding that it’s really coming back.”
Western Horseman Magazine signed on early as a major sponsor of the event, which brings a larger audience and casts a wider net in the search for artists. Members of the Red Bluff Art Association bring in their talents to stage the show, which takes place in the gem building of the Tehama District Fairgrounds.
“We don’t want to take away from the work of the dogs and horses, but people come to Red Bluff for different reasons,” says Daugherty of the decision to add art to the venerable event. “The Red Bluff Bull and Gelding sale is where people come to see people they haven’t seen in 10 years.”
With the addition of the art show, they can catch up on old times surrounded by art just as easily—or perhaps more easily—than standing in the cattle barns, maneuvering through the hustle and bustle of the sale.
On January 30, locals coming in from work will join ranchers coming in from the barns and art collectors swooping in from out of town for a reception celebrating the show. Wine and olive oil tasting will toast the artists and their awards from 5-7 pm. From then on, the show will be open throughout the duration of the Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale, which closes February 1.
“The art that is presented at the show is very collectible and should increase in value and recognition,” says Daugherty. With a smile she adds, “It’s something you can leave your children and doesn’t die like a horse or bull.”
Red Bluff Bull and Gelding Sale
Tehama District Fairgrounds
January 28–February 1
Western Art Show Reception
January 30, 5–7 pm