It’s one thing to ride a wild bucking horse; it’s another altogether to capture the powerful detail of bulging muscles, flying hooves and a cowboy hanging on for dear life.
But understanding rodeo is key to creating authentic, honest representations, first in clay and eventually as bronze sculptures.
“Bronc riding is something that’s hard to get out of your blood,” said Con Williams, a former rodeo cowboy from Belgrade, Mont., who now creates trophies for the some of rodeo’s best. He relies on personal experience when sculpting fine details and moving parts of both horse and rider.
“You kind of build from the inside out and try to keep the anatomy correct,” said Williams, who keeps horses and tack nearby to refer to when sculpting. “Sometimes you can work on it for a week and it doesn’t work. Other times, it can take two to three days and it works really well.”
Artist Con Williams stands with one of his entries in this year’s Calgary Stampede Champion Trophy Bronze competition at Stampede Park on Thursday October 12, 2017. One hundred and seventy western sculptures and bronze are on display as 25 artists from Canada and the U.S. vie to have their work selected for the 2018-2022 Calgary Stampede Champion Trophy Bronzes. Gavin Young/Postmedia
Gavin Young Gavin Young, Calgary Herald
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Con Williams with one of his entries, Class Act, in this year’s Calgary Stampede Champion Trophy Bronze competition on Oct. 12, 2017. Nearly 200 western sculptures are on display as 27 artists from Canada and the U.S. vie to have their work selected. Gavin Young/Postmedia
Williams and 26 other artists are vying to have their bronze sculptures chosen by the Calgary Stampede as trophies for rodeo events and chuckwagon for the next five years. The Stampede has been awarding bronzes to its champions since 1940.
There are almost 200 sculptures of everything from tie-down roping scenes to large horse heads on display at the Agrium Event Centre at Stampede Park. A team of judges will choose 15 for rodeo champions, six for chuckwagon racing and three for the Calgary Stampede Novice Tour.
Most of the sculptures are in clay form; a few are already finished in bronze. To an amateur, it’s difficult to compare one horse and rider or chuckwagon sculpture to another. But judge Les McIntyre has …read more