Donna Howell-Sickles’ Cowgirl

Strangely, her art has leant a strength to my life in many ways over the years.

I first encountered her work in Wickenburg, AZ at my sister’s house. The first piece of “art” she and her partner had bought, upon beginning their journey of filling their lives with SouthWestern art, was a lithograph copy of the Postcard Cowgirl. It was so striking, I immediately set out to acquire some of her work myself.

Here we are how many years later? Julia messaged me a few nights before she left Ohio that she had found a Christmas present for me. I messaged back, “Does he ride bulls?” Our running joke was that she would find me a cowboy to park his boots under my bed; the proverbial cowgirl-wanna-be dream.  She messaged back a sort of sly giggle, “No!”

“Does he eat hay?” I replied. She was, after all at Quarter Horse  Congress, horseflesh was prominent. She refused to reveal anything more than “it won’t cost you anything.”

Julia burst in through the door; still on the adrenalin rush of a month on the road. Unable to wait until December 25th she started pulling things out of her bags; Bull Rider’s fliers autographed to her with words of wisdom like “Hang On!!”

The gift she revealed was a copy of the Original Cowgirl Postcard. The one Donna Howell-Sickles’ painting that first caught my attention. Her signature work, according to the book, Cowgirl Rising which chronicles her art, was this painting. It resonates with who I am at this stage of life.

Of the cowgirl who dominates her work, part of Ms. Howell-Sickles’ description is thus:

“…the self-invented women of the hugely popular rodeos and Wild West shows – the original “cowgirls” who, from the turn of he century through the 1930s, opened up the definition of “woman” simply by doing well what they liked to do best. They were America’s first female professional athletes, women of skill and daring like no other women America has ever seen.”

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Better than a real cowboy or a new horse, the beautifully framed print is the perfect gift. The Cowgirl has come home to roost, on the backside of the Mountain in Temple, NH.

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