"Western Heritage"

  • Details

    Cowboys, Western, Cowgirls, Horses, Cattle, Indians, Longhorns and more

  • Biography

    Bill Owen (1942 - 2013)

    Living in Kirkland, Arizona, and born in Gila Bend, Bill Owen is a painter in realist style of western genre, a subject and method near to his family because his father was a cowboy and his mother an artist.  His painting skills have earned him membership and special recognition in western-art related organizations: the Cowboy Artists of America*, which he joined in 1973, and the National Academy of Western Artists* in 1991.  In 1993, he received the Frederic Remington Award* for Artistic Merit from the Cowboy Hall of Fame, and three years later, he was designated Rendezvous Artist by the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  At the Prix de West* Invitational Exhibition and Sale in 2003, he was the first recipient of the Express Ranches Great American Cowboy Award*.

    As a member of the Cowboy Artists of America, he served as a three-time President, and four times received the CAA Award, which is determined by membership vote for the best overall exhibition entries.

    Owen's painting achievements are earned in spite of a 1989 rodeo-related accident, which caused him to lose sight in his right eye.  Before that time, he had also been a sculptor, but the eyesight loss affected his depth perception, so he quit working in three-dimensional mediums.

    In 1995, Bill Owen established The Arizona Cowpuncher's Scholarship Organization to pay for higher education for young people from ranching families in Arizona.

    Cowboy Artists of America 44th Annual Exhibition Catalogue, 2009, Published by the Cowboy Artists of America for their annual exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum.

    Biography from Whistle Pik Galleries
    Photo of Bill Owen
    It's Bill and Valerie Owen's pursuit of open spaces that brought them to Kirkland, Arizona three years ago. Bill was born in Gila Bend, Arizona, and has lived all over the state, in hot and cool climates alike. As the towns kept growing, he kept moving in search of seclusion and land to call his own. Before building their home in Kirkland, which is nestled between Prescott and Wickenburg, the Owens lived on a ranch in a remote area outside of Globe, Arizona. In this rough country, they wouldn't see another soul for weeks at a time. There, they spent their days tending to cattle and enjoying the rugged vistas.

    The time came for a change, and Bill and Valerie eventually purchased a parcel of land from the Bill Ruger Ranch and built their home from the ground up. It's in that quiet, open space that Bill can focus his attention on his art, without the distractions of a bustling city or a working ranch to divert him from his life's calling. Situated high on a ridge, the Owens enjoy clear views of mountains and valleys all around them. "I don't know where we could go and like it any better," says Bill. While he has had a variety of studios over the years, this time he built one inside the house. Although the studio has a north-facing window, he keeps that covered with a blackout shade and relies on eight Color Correct fluorescent bulbs for consistent lighting no matter the time of day or season of the year - crucial for consistent color. "With the correct use of color, a painting will look good under bright light or dim light," explains Bill. "I have been pulling my hair out for the past 20 years studying color and trying to get it just right."

    Above all, Bill cherishes quiet in the studio. "I can't even let a dog in there with me," he laughs. "I get so engrossed in my paintings that two or three hours will pass in what seems like 15 minutes." That time spent in quiet contemplation of his art is something that his father ingrained in him from his earliest years. "My dad taught me, 'Take pains with it, son,'" remembers Bill. "He taught me to do things right the first time and the importance of learning patience." These life lessons rendered to him in his youth mingle with light and color on canvas for all to appreciate in his paintings.
    Bill Owen was born in 1942 in Gila Bend, Ariz., to a mother who was an artist and a father who had been a cowboy throughout the early 1900s. These influences shaped his desire to be an artist and cultivated his interest in the cowboy lifestyle. Having inherited the God-given talent, it was only natural he would strive to become an artist who chronicled the lives and works of the contemporary cowboy. Bill became a member of the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America in 1973 at age 31 and was the Senior Active Member at the time of his passing in his 40th year as a CAA. Throughout Bill's career his multi-faceted and self-taught talents earned him many medals and awards in sculpture, drawing, watercolor and oils at numerous shows, both here and abroad. Bill felt compelled to chronicle the lives and works of the contemporary cowboy and believed they were the true endangered species of our time. He was passionate about portraying every detail of these real people, real animals and real happenings in real places with complete accuracy. Even though he was honored with many awards and his talents were admired and appreciated by many throughout his career, his proudest moments were realized when a cowboy looked at one of his pieces and said, "That's exactly the way it is!" In 1989, while practicing for a rodeo, Bill survived an accident that resulted in the loss of sight in his right eye, affecting his depth perception and forcing him to give up sculpting. He never allowed himself to consider this loss a handicap, but greatly missed the medium for 13 years, successfully resuming sculpting in 2002. For all of Bill's artistic achievements, he was especially proud of The Arizona Cowpuncher's Scholarship Organization, which he founded in 1995 to help finance college educations for young people of the Arizona ranching community. Bill was admired and loved by many in the art world as well as the cowboy world. But more importantly, his family loved him in a "big" way. He was their patriarch, their rock, and the glue that held them together. His passing has left a hole in their hearts that can never be filled. The Owen home in Kirkland, Ariz., where Bill lived with his wife Valerie, allowed him the pleasure of visiting nearby ranches to gather research for his artwork, which is what he was doing when he went to be with the Lord. He was on the beautiful Diamond A Ranch in northern Arizona, enjoying more of God's country he was so often blessed by. He was doing what he loved, surrounded by cowboys, and he was gone in the blink of an eye. Not a bad end to the beautiful life lived by Bill Owen, Cowboy Artist.