Pendelton Round Up

Aloha Everyone, Sorry I haven’t posted earlier but I’ve been on the road quite a bit so will try to catch up in the next few days with a couple stories. I had the great pleasure to attend in September the 100th anniversary Pendelton Round Up courtesy of good friends Curtis and Kathryn Baker. We had front row box seats as good as it gets. This rodeo is like The Masters golf tournament of rodeo. The history behind it is really rich. It was a visual feast for me and I’ve started painting some historical Pendelton images. My first painting is of black cowboy George Fletcher who along with Nez Perce Indian Jackson Sundown and John Spain was involved in the most famous saddle bronc riding final in Pendelton history. ( The subject of a Ken Keesey novel. ) Although Spain ultimately won the event the crowd believed Fletcher was the real winner and jeered the announcement of Spain as winner and cheered Fletcher instead. Pretty remarkable for 1917… 53 year old Jackson Sundown won the all around… 53 years old! One tough cowboy and anyone who knows what a beating those guys take over a career knows how incredible that is… Every old cowboy limps for good reason. Some have broken most of the bones in their bodies at one time or another and are frequent customers of the local emergency room. Watching the energy with which these horses and bulls come out of the chute is incredible. Look how high off the ground the horse is in the picture above…with a rider on his back no less! Pendelton is a repository for American history and tradition and honors the character, honesty and toughness of a lifestyle that is fast disappearing. A real slice of American history with real Americans…

One of the great things about Pendelton is the association it’s had from it’s inception with Indian people of the Northwest. There’s an Indian horse race that has to be seen to be believed. One rider rides 3 different horse around the track which his teammates hold. He rides at full gallop one lap around the arena jumps off that horse ( at full speed ) and right back on to the next one which his friends try ( often unsuccessfully ) to hold still. There is no saddle or stirrups. They grab the horse’s mane to swing on. There are 4 different teams all doing this at the same time on the same side of the track so pretty much every race has collisions and falls. The energy is unbelievable. a rider might go from first to last or the other way around in a heartbeat. There is in addition to that dancing competitions with tribal groups from all over the west. The main drag in Pendelton is shut down for rodeo week and filled with musician’s stages and vendors. We stayed in a really great old hotel that had been the town brothel up until 1964! The Baker’s rented the whole thing for their pals. I was honored to take part. I’m really inspired to paint this imagery and will post pictures as I finish them.

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