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Spirit of the Cowgirl at Mountain Trails Gallery

The Longhorn of the Law by Jennifer O’Cualain, 8 x 16, oil

The Longhorn of the Law by Jennifer O’Cualain, 8 x 16, oil

Originally Published: June 3, 2019 9:18 a.m.

Mountain Trails Gallery at Tlaquepaque in Sedona is proud to present “Spirit of the Cowgirl” featuring a group of artists who embody that certain spirit in an exhibition which opens on Friday, June 7, with a reception from 5-8 p.m.


I Love You But I’m All Done Cookin’ by Deborah Copenhaver Fellows, bronze, 22.5”H x 16.5”W x 5.5”D

Featured traditional artists include Suzanne Baker, Vicki Catapano, Lisa Danielle, Deborah Copenhaver Fellows, Susan Kliewer, Betty Carr, Maria D’Angelo, Jennifer O’Cualain and Sarah Phippen, along with contemporary artists Marcia Molnar, Sandra Passmore Byland, and Michelle Condrat.

These remarkable women have many things in common and yet they present their own expressions and interpretations of what makes a cowgirl so spirited in their paintings and bronze sculpture. In an interview by the gallery with several of these artists, the topic itself became a spirited one, but the consensus was that the person is straight-forward and fearless.

Also expressed is that “it’s important to do the job that needs to be done and get on with it.” Also, the characteristics common to this group include “being independent but deal with the consequences,” “bite the bullet,” and, in other words, “cowgirl up!”

Bronze sculptor Deborah Copenhaver Fellows was born into a bronc riding family on a cattle and quarter horse ranch in Northern Idaho. Deborah’s work ethic included working hard the same as everyone else on the ranch. She also learned barrel racing and horse wrangling, and later went on to become a head wrangler on a dude ranch. It was, however, learning the fine art of bronze sculpture that gave her independence.

Deborah’s career took off with a monument for the City of Spokane and continued with additional monuments including her bronze of U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater for Statuary Hall in Washington DC. Deborah was inducted into the National Sculpture Society in 2008 and the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in 2009.

Throughout her career, Deborah has completed commissions of horses too numerous to mention. Today she lives with her artist husband and horses on a ranch in Arizona, appreciating what has been important to her throughout her life.

Her newest bronze, “I Love You But I’m All Done Cookin’” expresses a playful sass that is delivered with a straight-forward attitude by this distinguished artist from the American West.

Growing up with artists as parents, Lisa Danielle has been drawing and painting all her life. At the age of 2, Lisa started drawing horses with the guiding hand of her rancher father.

From that time on, she has been painting intimate portraits of objects from the historic Old West and earning numerous awards and accolades.

Speaking about her choice as an independent artist, “I always understood that one needs to be capable, and self sufficient in the life style you pick.”

Today, Lisa rides horses as well as a motorcycle, and enjoys working in her Sedona studio Paintbrush Ranch, which is filled with cowgirl memorabilia as well as Native American objects.

In the painting “Flora and Fauna” the historic Acoma Pueblo vessel and hand-painted trunk speak of their journey through use and through time. Lisa’s journey is guided by a saying taught by her family, “You pull yourself up by your boot straps, and go on!”

Vicki Catapano also grew up in a family of artists. She spent her early years working on a cattle ranch and learning the cowboy way of life, especially the working vaqueros from California and Nevada. Vicki was introduced to the local Native American tribes, and from there became fascinated with the history and culture of each and every tribal person she met. Although she loves painting cowboys and cowgirls, landscapes, and animals, her passion is painting the Native American cultures, especially the colorful and regal Pow Wow dancers.

Susan Kliewer came to sculpture by landing a job in a fine art bronze foundry, doing the work that had always been done by men.

That “can-do” attitude was instilled in Susan early from her ranching family as she fell in love with the American West. She admired frontier women who were willing to tackle any job.

Although Susan began drawing and painting, she achieved independence when she started creating sculptures of her own.

After completing and installing numerous monuments, including “Sedona Schnebly” for the Sedona Public Library, this award-winning artist continues to receive accolades for her story-telling bronzes of the Native American cultures as well as real life experiences from the West. 

Exhibiting artists who have forged ahead with a contemporary artistic spirit include Marcia Molnar, Sandra Passmore Byland, and Michelle Condrat.

Marcia Molnar spent time on Arizona ranches getting to know the cowboys, cowgirls, and animals that catch her artistic eye.

Her fascination and talent with numerous painting styles all reflect the beauty and the spirit of the West whether it is people, animals, or the grandeur of the Western landscape.

Devoted to the humane treatment of animals, Sandra Passmore Byland uses the medium of colored pencil to express her love of horses and the West. Her freedom of expression and sensitivity to her medium is embodied in each horse painting that she creates. And, contemporary landscape painter Michelle Condrat embodies the saying that “a cowgirl is an attitude” as she creates her own brand of painting. Her intensified color, broad-blended strokes and love of geometry creates a vivid immediacy to her landscapes. Michelle’s unique style has been called pixelated impressionism, along with references to cubism, and even video-game art. The artist wants to give viewers a feeling of movement, of being outside in the wide open spaces of nature and the West.

Julie R. Williams, Director of Mountain Trails Gallery Sedona spoke about the “Spirit of the West,” “Whether working with the history and culture of the West, or presenting exciting new contemporary ways of seeing, we are fortunate to have these outstanding artists who are today’s face of the American West. They do what they love to do, and they do it with a courage and a spirit that is palpable in their life and their art.”

The gallery invites you to come out and see what these spirited cowgirls have created and enjoy a festive evening with collectors and art lovers from all walks of life at First Friday’s reception. Mountain Trails Gallery is located in Tlaquepaque, upstairs, Suite A201 overlooking the Patio de las Campanas, 336 SR 179, Sedona, AZ 86336. mountaintrailssedona.com

fineart@mountaintrailssedona.com (928) 282-3225