Cowboy Artists Ride on Historic Ranch
CAA members visit scenic location where Lonesome Dove was filmed.
Story and photos by Ross Hecox
Campfires, cowboy teepees and cowboy artists highlighted a week at the Hat Creek Ranch in northern New Mexico. The Cowboy Artists of America meet every year for strategic planning and to build on the camaraderie amongst its members.
Rather than meeting in a stuffy hotel conference room, they gather on a ranch, camp out and take meals from a chuck wagon. The artists also make sure to schedule saddle time, whether moving cattle, branding or riding through scenic landscapes.
This year they met at John and Charlotte Kimberlin's historic ranch. The Hat Creek Ranch is where the latter part of Lonesome Dove was filmed, when Captain Woodrow F. Call and his men arrive in Montana with their cattle. The Emmy Award-winning miniseries, released in 1989, starred Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones.
The Kimberlins have preserved the mountain meadow and lake as it was seen in the film, and they recently refurbished the cabin and corrals that Captain Call's men build during the latter scenes of Lonesome Dove.
The cowboy artists set up their teepees above the cabin and meadow, conducted meetings in a nearby tent, and spent one day riding through mountain meadows and stands of pine and aspen trees. CAA President R.S. Riddick says the annual rides also serve as inspiration for the artists.
"The world doesn't need just another pretty picture," he says. "It needs a poet, a preacher, a word of truth to shake people up about the way things really are. And by getting out here, where you smell it, see it, feel it, it becomes real in your work as an artist. It's not just something you're making up. You're living it. And then people who buy our art can get a piece of something that is genuine."