Where Art and the Rodeo Meet

June 8, 2013

When you think of art do you think of rodeo? When you think of rodeo do you think of art? I don’t. But the two converged on my second day in the Glacier National Park area of northwest Montana. I’m writing this post from White Sulphur Springs, Montana, about 180 miles north of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. That’s my next stop, tomorrow.

I entered Montana after a two day journey through the rolling mountains of northern Washington and a short hop across the pan handle of Idaho. After Idaho the drive wasn’t too much farther. The snow-capped mountains of Glacier National Park shone like a monument to Mother Earth – tall, strong, as old as the ages, topped by powdery clouds that help create the Big Sky.

By no planning on my part, I landed in Montana a day before my friend’s art opening in Whitefish. Martina’s a ceramics professor at Marlboro College, owns her own studio in Brattleboro, exhibits around the country, and is also a pretty darn good swimmer, if I don’t say so myself. I should know. Martina and I have spent many hours in the pool together working out. I’m a big fan of her pottery, so I was thrilled to be at her opening at Whitefish Pottery this past Thursday. Here are some pictures of Martina, her pottery, and the two other artists who were on display.


Pictured here Martina Lantin (left) and the two other artists in the show, Kip and Meagan.


Some of Martina’s work. If you’d like to see more, I recommend visiting her web site at http://www.mlceramics.com/.




Congratulations, Martina, for a successful show! Get ready for some open water swimming when I get back to Vermont.

I moved my camp spot from West Glacier to East Glacier after the first night. I discovered too late that a train ran 100 yards from my campsite. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep too well that first night. I found a new campground in East Glacier about 30 minutes from Whitefish. It was a place I remembered from my previous visit in the late 90’s. My daughter, Elisa, and I visited my mother when she volunteered at the Glacier Institute over the summer. I remember seeing one of the largest pileated woodpeckers I had ever seen at this campground. On the return to my campsite from Martina’s art opening I spotted a rodeo and decided to pop in. Many people were leaving. I asked if it was over. One man replied, “Almost.” Almost was good enough for me. That meant there was still some potential action. I popped on the zoom lens and climbed up into the stands.

As I stood atop the bleachers and looked around I felt like Dorothy when she walks out of her farm house that’s landed in Oz. I said to myself, “This isn’t Vermont, Steve!” This was like Friday night high school football in my hometown, but with cowboys and cowgirls. Horse trailers were parked on the perimeter of the arena, big pick-up trucks filled the parking lot, children played under the bleachers, young men and women mingled and lingered, families had gathered, and country music was playing from the loudspeaker between events. I walked in during the cow roping event.

Men paired up to see who could rope a cow on its horns and back feet the fastest. Here are some pictures.

Listen to the sound of the rodeo as you view the pictures: 

The arena.


Here’s a series of pictures showing the cow bring released from the gate and the two cowboys chasing and lassoing the cow.






More Cowboys



Time for the cowgirls to step up. Here’s where I had my socks knocked off. These women could ride! Their competition was about speed and agility. Three barrels were placed in the arena in a triangular shape. The rider would speed out of the gate with her horse and see how fast she could ride around the barrels. She had to do a 360 degree turn around the first barrel, about 100 degrees around the second and another 360 around the third. After that it was a sprint to the finish line. First, a series of pictures of one woman during her 18 seconds in the arena.

Out of the gate.


Around the first barrel and on to the second.


Around the second barrel and on to the third.




Around the third barrel and the sprint to the finish.


Over the finish line.


After the race.


Here are some pictures of cowgirls sprinting to the finish line.




Pictures from around the rodeo.




This was fun! And if anyone asks if I’m in love with cowgirls, the answer’s, “Yes!”

The following morning I woke up at 4:30 to drive to Many Glacier and do some hiking. But that’s for my next post. I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from that day. More to come!



All content Copyrighted ©  Stephen Tavella

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