Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member
Joe Beeler, a founding member of the Cowboy Artists of America, was a pioneer in the territory of contemporary Western art. He was there at the beginning of the tremendous development of that territory in the early 1960s. The key event in Beeler’s pioneering activity was the founding, in 1965, of the Cowboy Artists of America. From that association of like-minded people flows a stream of fine art works—making the exhibitions eagerly anticipated and commercially successful.
Raised in Oklahoma and Missouri, Beeler received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Kansas State Teachers College and continued his studies at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. His professional career began in illustration at the University of Oklahoma Press in Norman. This gave him the confidence to pursue a career as a professional fine artist, and collectors were quick to acquire his paintings. The success of his one-man show at the Thomas Gilcrease Museum in 1960 established him on a course that would lead to national acclaim and a string of honors and awards.
Numerous medals and awards have been bestowed on Beeler’s work, including gold and silver honors in sculpture, silver in drawing, and an Artists’ Choice Award, all from the CAA organization; there aren’t many artists who can claim such versatility. In 1994, the Arizona Historical League named him an “Arizona Historymaker”—an award presented to a very select group of Arizonans. In 1998, Canada’s Cowboy Festival presented “Living Legends Awards” to six individuals in different categories of cowboy culture, and Beeler was the artist honored by the Canadian group.
Source: Cowboy Artists of America
Apache Scout Profile
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (1987) | 3 ½”h x 3 ½”w
In 1987, the Apache Scout Profile medallion entered the series; it was the fifth to do so!
As you may recall, in 1983 Cowboy Artists of America Founding Member Joe Beeler and Eddie Basha collaborated on what would eventually become a hallmark series of bronze, and later, pewter medallions. At that time, neither envisioned the scope nor popularity. Individual medallions soon became sets and much later a series totaling twenty-four pieces. The medallions were used as holiday gifts or acknowledgements of gratitude.
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (1986) | 3 ½”h x 3 ½”w
The second “Plains Indian” medallion entered the series in 1986! Slightly different than its predecessor, this particular likeness leans toward a depiction of a Sioux Indian.
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Watercolor | Image Size: 6”h x 4”w; Framed Size: 15 7/8” h x 13 7/8”w
Few western artists have been as prolific and versatile as Joe Beeler who was skilled at sculpting, drawing and painting. As a painter, he easily shifted between a variety of media, including oils, pen and ink, charcoal, pastels, pencil, and as is the case with this small Indian portrait, watercolor. Adapting to the necessities of the medium, this piece has a quick, fluid style that captures the subject and his proudly, well-worn hat; perhaps one of his favorite possessions.
What about that hat? The “boss of the plains” was designed in 1865 by John B. Stetson, specifically for the American West. Basically, it was a redesigned “bowler” that was durable, waterproof and practical, providing greater protection from the elements. Originally redesigned straight-sided, round cornered, flat brimmed and without a crease. Its appearance slowly evolved, first unintentionally by use and later deliberately by preference. In fact, those changes increasingly reflected its owner’s geographic location, occupation, and/or culture. Eventually it became referred to as the “Stetson” and more commonly, the “cowboy hat”.
Regardless of the decade, the century or the era, hats have withstood the test of time. And though styles and purpose have changed, hats remain an emblematic part of culture out of necessity or as personified in art, cinema, fashion, music, etc. Think Vincent van Gogh’s self-portrait wearing his yellow straw hat, Charlie Chaplin in his bowler, the Duke’s signature cowboy hat, Jacqueline Kennedy in her pillbox, Pharrell Williams in his boss of the plains inspired number or Billie Eilish in her beanie or bucket hat. Personas in movies such as Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Indiana Jones, Rocky, and The Godfather have been defined by them. Songs have been sung about them. Military service branches can be distinguished by them. They’ve been worn on solemn as well as happy occasions and at formal and informal ones too. Even in the abstract we’ve all kept something under our hats, tossed our hat into the ring, did something at the drop of a hat, worn several hats, eaten our hats, or had our hat handed to us. Maybe you’ve even pulled a rabbit out of yours.
Coco Chanel once said, “The apparent simplicity of a masterpiece is certain proof of its grace.” Who knew that a simple hat created for a specific purpose in 1865 would be so enduring? That this hat is still worn today is proof enough that it is, indeed, a masterpiece.
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze | Dimensions: 19”h x 26 ½”w x 11”d; Edition #1 of 35
American Indian women on the Great Plains were tasked with many responsibilities that were essential to the survival of their families and tribes. One of those tasks was to move camp as the men of the tribe followed the buffalo herds. In this sculpture, Beeler presents an Indian woman mounted on her horse with her child swaddled on her back. The horse is pulling a travois, a sort of sled fashioned from two of the lodge poles from her teepee. All of the family’s possessions, including their shelter, are transported on the poles. Two dogs walking alongside the mother and child complete the scene.
XIT is Born
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Oil (1977) | Image Size: 24”h x 48”w; Framed Size: 35”h x 58.5”w
This painting depicts the first herd of South Texas cattle delivered to what was to be, the XIT Ranch at Buffalo Springs. Not having arrived at a brand yet, the crew stood around Abe Blocker, the trail boss, and “Barbeque” Campbell, the ranch foreman at the time, and Abe drew on the ground the now famous XIT brand. The brand stood for ten counties in Texas and was chosen for its difficulty to vent or change. This was a historic moment in range history.
Joe Beeler thoroughly researched this piece for historical accuracy. The cowboys are realistically portrayed and appropriately reflect the time period. Included are two African American cowboys, another accurate reflection of the day as they actively participated in many trail drives during the period. The painting is large and filled with many characters. It is replete with many details of clothing and equipment and recounts an important historical aspect of the West, the founding of a legendary Texas Panhandle ranch.
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (1984) | 3 ½”h x 3 ½”w
The “Plains Indian” medallion entered the art world in 1985! Over 500 of these were gifted and put into circulation. It would be an additional five years before a specific historical figure would be recognized and depicted in the series.
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (September 2005) | Limited Edition of 110
The Medal of Honor, the USA’s most prestigious military honor, is awarded in recognition of military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor. This select group gathers in a new location annually. In September of 2005, the State of Arizona and the City of Phoenix were humbled and honored to recognize the heroism and bravery of these extraordinary individuals. Joe Beeler, founding member of the Cowboy Artists of America, was asked by Eddie Basha, a member of the host committee, to create a limited edition medallion commemorating the occasion that would be gifted to each Medal of Honor recipient. Famed and admired leader of the Chiricahua Apache, Cochise, appears on its surface in recognition of all warriors.
Love at First Sight
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (2001) | 13 ¾”h x 11 ¼”w x 10”d; Edition #1 of 45
“The inspiration for this piece came about as a result of a mule named Sugar. I bought it for my wife, Sharon. Once I put the mule in the same coral as the gelding, it was Love at First Sight. The gelding was no longer good for anything and he wouldn’t perform unless Sugar was by his side,” shared Joe Beeler in 2001.
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (1984) | 3 ½”h x 3 ½”w
The second medallion in the series, “The Apache” debuted in 1984! It, along with the entire series, is displayed routinely in the gallery. Often when discussing the next medallion in the series, Joe and Eddie would contemplate utilizing a particular or similar profile that Joe had crafted in an earlier painting or drawing which Eddie had acquired for the collection. Joe would then sculpt the image they had agreed upon in clay and a mold would be made for the bronze castings by Ed Reilly of Bronzesmith Fine Art Foundry and Gallery in Prescott Valley, Arizona.
Join us on social media by sharing your medallion story, image, card or note... remember to use our link and hashtags when you do! #24medallions #finderskeepers #showusyourmedallion
(L-R) Cheyenne Scout – The Mystic – Cheyenne
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: (L-R)
Bronze | Dimensions: 14 ½”h x 14”w; Edition #13 of 20
Bronze | Dimensions: 16”h x 9”w; Edition #1 of 35
Bronze | Dimensions: 14”h x 12”w; Edition #1 of 20
One Shot Antelope Hunt (Parody)
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Water Marker & Pen (8/3/92) | Image Size: 11”h x 8 ½”w; Framed Size: 18 ¾”h x 16 ¼”w
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (1983) | 3 ½”h x 3 ½”w
Though the concept wasn’t a new one, in 1983 Joe Beeler and Eddie Basha collaborated on what would eventually become a hallmark series of bronze, and later pewter, medallions. At that time, neither envisioned the scope nor popularity. Individual medallions soon became sets and much later a series totaling twenty-four pieces. The medallions were used as holiday gifts or acknowledgements of gratitude. The medallion shown here was the first of the series and reveals a Navajo profile which was fitting since the first Bashas’ Diné store opened in Chinle, Arizona, that same year.
While many enjoy the medallions displayed as beautiful artwork, some recipients creatively used them at their homes, offices and in landscapes. One had the pieces repurposed as cabinet pulls, another as an entry door knocker, an ornamental gate pull, and even artfully embedded along a garden path.
Inquiries are routinely fielded about the medallions, most often by individuals who actively pursue the entire series. And if your curiosity is piqued, rest assured The EBC is committed to sharing additional images and relevant series information here and on social media.
#24medallions #finderskeepers #showusyourmedallion
Cow Camp by Moonlight
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Oil (1997) | Image Size: 24”h x 36”w; Framed Size: 36 ¼”h x 48”w
A lone cowboy rides away from camp on a white horse, more than likely to check the herd. Meanwhile, the bedrolls are brought out and dinner preparations are underway at the chuck wagon. All the activities associated with winding down after a long day on the range. The ambient pale moonlight and firelight beautifully lend themselves as illuminators of a tranquil dusk.
The Scout for the Long Knives
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (2006) | 24”h x 11.25”w x 8”d; Edition #1 of 40
In Joe Beeler’s bronze depiction “The Scout for the Long Knives” the Indian scout wears a unique blend of traditional garb, surplus stock issued cavalry jacket, and hat with an added feather accoutrement. Highly effective, Indian Scouts were skilled trackers, had immense knowledge of the terrain, and provided much needed intelligence. Early white settlers and subsequently soldiers were dubbed “long knives” since the knives they carried were noticeably longer than those which Indians had seen or used initially.
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze | Dimensions: 8”h x 10”w x 5”d; Edition #7 of 30
The Horse Thief
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Charcoal (1995) | Image Size: 23"h x 16.5”w; Framed Size: 35 ½”h x 28 ½”w
Shown in profile, this armed and sinister frontier character is mounted on a partially-viewed horse which accorded Beeler the opportunity to provide many details of the character’s clothing and weapon.
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Pastel | Image Size: 16”h x 12”w; Framed Size: 24.5”h x 20.75”w
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze | Dimensions: 28”h x 34”w x 8”d; Edition #1 of 35
Joe Beeler Cowboy Artist bronze entitled “Vengeance” was based on the second battle of Adobe Walls which occurred in the Texas Panhandle in 1864. In that battle, 20 or 30 buffalo hunters held off for three days approximately 700 (+/-) Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache warriors led by Comanche Medicine Man Isatai’i and Comanche Chief Quanah Parker, son of the previously captured white woman Cynthia Ann Parker. The deciding factor was a famous long range rifle shot by hunter Billy Dixon that killed a warrior at a distance of either 1,000 or 1,500 yards (depending on who is telling the story; 1,500 yards is almost a mile in distance). Dixon used a borrowed buffalo gun, often called the “big fifty,” which refers to the large caliber. The Indians were said to have been so startled that a shot could be made from such a distance that they dispersed. For additional information, Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne is a detailed account of Texas history as well as the Comanches.
Sugar for the Trail
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (2006) | 20”h x 10”w x 14”d; Edition #1 of 45
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (1974) | 12”d x 21”h x 35”w; Edition #1 of 15
Toasting to the Union Pacific
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Oil (2003) | Image Size: 24”h x 36”w; Framed Size: 36 ¼”h x 48”w
Under the Congressional Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 which was approved by President Abraham Lincoln, the Union Pacific was incorporated. The act provided for railroad construction from the Missouri River to the Pacific. From Council Bluffs, Iowa, it was constructed westward to meet the Central Pacific Railroad line which went eastward from San Francisco. Primarily constructed by immigrant labor, the two railway lines connected at Promontory Summit, Utah, on May 10, 1869, creating the first transcontinental railroad in North America.
No longer would mail or other transactional activities be transported by horseback or stage over the rugged terrain. At the very least, a toast was in order!
Sun Dance Chief & Mountain Chief
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (1995) & Oil (2002)
Bronze | Dimensions: 20”h x 11”w x 11”d; Edition #1 of 45
Oil | Image Size: 16”h x 12”w; Framed Size: 29”h x 25 1/8”w
There were a variety of war bonnets, however, those shown here were primarily worn by Sioux or Northern Plains Indians. Headpieces were not worn in battle as it would have been impractical to do so. Distinguished or highly regarded warriors who “earned” a bonnet would wear it during ceremonial or spiritual practices. These horned bison hide bonnets were often embellished with “earned” accoutrements such as fur, tails trailing behind, ermine skins and feathers.
In the Joe Beeler bronze "Sundance Chief" and the oil painting “Mountain Chief,” we see two unique bison bonnets proudly worn by their victors.
Sharing the Cold and the Coffee
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Oil | Image Size: 24”h x 40”w; Framed Size: 34 1/2"h x 50”w
The rangers find themselves in no better conditions than the bandit prisoners. They have stopped to warm up and share what little comfort they have. A “cup of joe” has come a long way!
Morning in a Roundup Camp
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Oil | Image Size: 24”h x 48”w; Framed Size: 34”h x 58”w
The Chuck Wagon was essentially the heart of the home while working on a roundup. It’s where the hands gathered before and after a hard day’s work, broke bread and socialized. And it was no secret that Cookie’s job was every bit as important as the work of the hands; a fed and rested cowboy was more likely to work harder and keep a better temperament than one without. Meals frequently consisting of beans and/or beef and biscuits were prepared in Dutch ovens and cast iron skillets and the coffee was hot.
A Doubtful Promise
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Oil (1977) | Image Size: 24”h x 40”w; Framed Size: 35”h x 50”w
During the period of the early trail driving days, there was much violence and bloodshed. Herds were attacked, cattle driven off and cowboys and Indians wounded and killed. If the warriors felt they were not well-enough armed to attack during the day, attacks were made at night to cause stampedes which inflicted great losses on the cow men.
This painting portrays a group of Kiowa and Comanche holding up a trail herd. They are cutting out a small bunch of steers as payment for the herd crossing their hunting ground. Here the old chief is seen breaking an arrow as a promise to the trail boss that they are “brothers” and that his children will cause them no trouble. The looks on the faces of all the characters involved show their concern and doubt.
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Pencil | Image Size: 18”h x 24”w; Framed Size: 28 5/8"h x 34 ¾”w
At day's end, entertainment encamp is often filled with storytelling, song or music as well as poetry. Similar experiences can be had by attending a cowboy poetry and music activity. Check for local events in your area.
When Thunder Roared
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze | Dimensions: 18”h x 26”w x 17”d; Edition #1 of 45
Bison and Buffalo! Early American settlers called bison “bufello” due to similarities between the species and the name stuck. However, bison are found in North America while the two main buffalo types are found in Africa and Asia.
Bison were the sustenance of the American Indian. They were an integral part of their history, culture, ceremonies and way of life. Bison were more than a major food source, the American Indian made clothing and tipis from the hides, soap from the fat, jewelry and weapons could be fashioned from teeth and horns, tools could be made from hooves and needles crafted from bone. Many social behaviors were learned and adapted from bison such as physical activity, equality of gender, using resources wisely, breastfeeding their young and the value of young and old alike. The bison were and remain today a spiritual reminder to American Indians of how they once lived harmoniously with nature and free.
"When Thunder Roared"… a powerful bronze by Joe Beeler that exhibits the tenacity of both the hunter and the hunted.
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Oil (1974) | Image Size: 30”h x 48”w; Framed Size: 41”h x 58”w
When trade began between the native New Mexicans and the Commanche, the New Mexicans would drive their carts and pack trains out onto the Staked Plains of what now is West Texas. In the early days, the goods usually consisted of bread, cloth or other articles of low value which they would trade with the Indians for bison robes and other pelts. But as the Comanche expanded their warfare on the frontier of Texas and Northern Mexico, they began to have large herds of horses, mules and cattle for trade. The more ambitious New Mexicans then started to bring muskets, pistols, knives, lead, and whiskey to trade. The height of this trade lasted from 1850 until the mid 1870's.
By 1876, the Comanche trails were cut deep in the sands of West Texas and New Mexico. Three major trails existed that lead to the meeting places on the Staked Plains; one near Amarillo, one near Lubbock and the other east of Tucumcari, near the Texas border. It was estimated that thousands of livestock head changed hands during this period of time and most of the cattle bore Texas brands.
Chief Goes to Washington
Artist: Joe Beeler, CA Founding Member (1931-2006)Description: Bronze (1990) | Dimensions: 20"h x 15"w x 14”d; Edition #1 of 35
Edward N. Basha, Jr. gifted this same titled bronze to President William Jefferson Clinton in November 1996. It remains in the White House Art Collection as sitting President’s cannot accept personal gifts but rather on behalf of the Nation where it remains today.