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June 23, 2014

It’s Monday, June 23 and I have dedicated myself to writing a blog entry every day.

I do not consider my life to be what anyone would describe as exciting so this could be the most incredibly boring blog ever if I just talked about my life.  What I think is important is to connect with other artists. 


Maybe other artists are also feeling that their life is also not incredibly interesting but they are nevertheless also developing their art career and are also learning more about how professional artists structure their days from day to day.


I don’t want this blog to be just a one way dialogue and want to hear from other artists (and any creative business person/entrepreneur) too so we all can learn from one another. 


What works in your life?  You are always learning how to manage life and create the best art you can…just like me.  It isn’t easy.


So that is what I will talk about – each day what I do to create art and make what I do better and the other adventures into art that I embark on and the other things that just happen that enhance or interfere with that.


I have been refreshing my art education since the beginning of the year.  I spend a portion of the beginning and/or end of the day learning something about art and artists through history.  This must come up (art history) just with the every day sketching I have been doing…I have been involved in the study of values and perspective, for instance – and how can the study of value and perspective not lead me to learning more about da Vinci?   


I have been trying to shore up the holes in my art education in other ways – for example, I have been learning more about oil painting.  You can’t paint well if you can’t draw well…I think. 


I want to paint some scenes from around our property to frame and hang in the living room which is currently being remodeled a bit to make it more of a gallery space for my sculpture.  So I have been on Stapleton Kearns blog and he is fantastically educational not just about painting but about art history.


These things and more (to be shared in future posts) have been important inroads to keeping me motivated to sculpt more and to always think of myself and my work as truly a professional endeavor. 


I hope to hear from anyone out there, all of you artist/entrepreneurs.  What do you do every day?  Do you try to continually educate yourself about art and what is it you do to keep your work it’s best and to keep your muse alive?

10 Paradoxical Traits Of Creative People

Creative people are humble and proud. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. Creative people are rebellious and conservative. How creative are you?

I frequently find myself thinking about whether I am an artist or an entrepreneur.

It is safe to say that more and more entrepreneurs are artists, and artists of all kinds are entrepreneurs. And the trend is only on the rise as all things (art, science, technology, business, culture, spirituality) are increasingly converging.

Creativity is the common theme that drives both entrepreneurs and artists alike. But creative people are often also paradoxical.

Over this past Labor Day weekend, I found myself reading excerpts from distinguished professor of psychology and management Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (pronounced me-HIGH chick-sent-me-HIGH-ee) seminal book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People (HarperCollins, 1996).

He writes:

“I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”

Mihaly describes ten traits often contradictory in nature, that are frequently present in creative people.  In Creativity, Mihaly outlines these:

1.  Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest

They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.

2.  Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.

“It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.”

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.

But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, and perseverance.

“Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not. Vasari wrote in 1550 that when Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello was working out the laws of visual perspective, he would walk back and forth all night, muttering to himself: “What a beautiful thing is this perspective!” while his wife called him back to bed with no success.”

4.  Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.

Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present.

5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted.

We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.

It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead.

7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.

When tests of masculinity and femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.

It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.

9.Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.

Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility. Here is how the historian Natalie Davis puts it:

“I think it is very important to find a way to be detached from what you write, so that you can’t be so identified with your work that you can’t accept criticism and response, and that is the danger of having as much affect as I do. But I am aware of that and of when I think it is particularly important to detach oneself from the work, and that is something where age really does help.”

10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.

“Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake. Without this trait, poets would give up striving for perfection and would write commercial jingles, economists would work for banks where they would earn at least twice as much as they do at universities, and physicists would stop doing basic research and join industrial laboratories where the conditions are better and the expectations more predictable.”

Paradoxical or not, what I have learned most is that there is no formula for individual creation. As Mihay says, “creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.”  So, more than anything else, what it takes to be creative is resourcefulness and the courage not to give up.

 The Oglala Lakota tribe has many stories about the wind and this one is my favorite.  Wind is an almost constant companion out here on the Colorado prairie and it can change directions many times in one day – causing clouds and weather to circle us much of the time so that no rain or snow will fall.  We can see it happening from a distance all around us and feel the wind in a big way – but sometimes wind is the only thing that happens.  Seeing the rain and clouds and rainbows that form around us because the wind can’t seem to decide on one way to blow for long – is one of the most beautiful things about where we live.  The Lakota Winds series is meant to commemorate that aspect of our environment.  It is a beautiful way of explaining why there are the seasons of the year and the cycles of the warming, flowering and freezing of the earth.

Before the creation of the world the South wind (Okaga), the North wind (Yata), the West wind (Eya), and the East wind (Yanpa) dwelt together in the far north in the land of the ghosts.  They were brothers.  The North wind, the oldest, was always cold and stern.  The West wind, next to the oldest, was always strong and noisy.  The East wind, the third, was always cross and disagreeable.  The South wind, the next to the youngest, was always pleasant.  With them dwelt a little brother, the whirlwind, (Yumni) who was always full of fun and frolic.

The North wind was a great hunter and delighted in killing things.  The South wind took pleasure in making things.  The West wind was a helper of his brother, the South wind, and sometimes he helped his brother, the North wind.  The East wind was lazy and good for nothing.  The little whirlwind never had anything to do, so he played all the time and danced and made sport for his brothers.

After a long time, a beautiful being fell from the stars.  Her hair was like the light and her dress was red and green and white and blue, and all the colors, and she had decorations and ornaments of all colors.  As she was falling, she met the five brothers and begged them to give her some place to rest.  They took pity on her and invited her into their tipi.  When she came in the tipi, everything was bright and pleasant and all were happy, so all the four brothers wanted to marry her.  Each asked her to be his woman.

She told them that she was please with their tipi and would be the woman of the one who did that which pleased her the most.  So the North wind went hunting and brought her his game; but everything he brought turned to ice as soon as he laid it before her, and the tipi was dark and cold and dreary.

Then the West wind brought his drum and sang and danced before her, but he made so much noise and disturbed things so much that the tipi fell down and she had hard work to raise it again.

Then the East wind sat down by her and talked to her so foolishly that she felt like crying.

Then the South wind made beautiful things for her.  She was happy and the tipi was warm and bright.  She said that she would be the South wind’s woman.  This made the North wind very angry for he claimed that it was his right as the oldest, to have the beautiful being.  But the South wind would not give her up.  The North wind and South wind quarreled all the time about her and finally the South wind told his woman that they would go away so that they might live in peace.  They started, but the North wind tried to steal her.  When she found what the North wind was trying to do, she took off her dress, spread it out, and got under it to hide.  When North wind came to the dress he thought that he had found the beautiful being and he embraced it, but everything on it grew hard and cold and icy.  He heard the South wind coming and he fled to his tipi.  The South wind found only a cold hard thing like his woman’s dress but he could not find the woman so he went back to look for her.  When he had gone, the North wind came again and said to the woman, “I know you are under this dress and I am coming there also.”  So he went to the edge of the dress, but the woman spread it out farther that way.  Then he went to the edge at another place and she spread that side out.  He kept going from place to place and she kept spreading her dress wider and wider until it became so wide that there was no end or side left.

Then he heard the South wind coming again and he ran to his tipi.  When the South wind came again he examined the dress and found that it was truly his woman’s dress and then he knew that the North wind had embraced it.  He called loudly for his woman and she answered that she was under the dress and then he knew that the North wind had embraced it.  He called again for his woman and she answered him that she was under the dress, but that she had stretched it so wide to keep away from the North wind, that there was neither a side or an end to it, so she could not get out from under it.  Then the South wind followed on the trail of the North wind until he came to the tipi where he found him boasting to the other brothers of what he had done.

The South wind went in and reproached his brother.  They quarreled and finally fought and the North wind was about to conquer when the West wind rushed in to help the South wind and they conquered the North wind.  They could not kill him so they bound his feet and hands and left him in the tipi.  The other brothers all sided with the South wind and determined to live no longer with the North wind.  So the West wind went to live where the sun sets, the East wind where the sun rises, the South wind went opposite the tipi of the North wind far as he could go.

The little whirlwind was too small to have a tipi of his own, so he lived with the South wind the most of the time, but part of the time he was to live with the West wind.  The East wind was so lazy and disagreeable that he would not even visit him.

When they were leaving the North wind, he defied them all and told them that he would forever combat them, that he would break his bonds and go on the warpath against each of them.  He said to the South wind, “I know where your woman is.  I know what covers her and hides her.  When I loosen by bonds I will go and try to get her.  I have destroyed the beauty of her dress.  If I do not get her I will again destroy its beauty.  I will fight you forever for her.”

The south wind came again to his woman’s frozen dress.  He called her and she answered, but she could not come from under it, neither cold he go below it for it was spread so wide that there was no end to it.  He journeyed to his brothers’ tipi.  They came and helped him; they warmed the dress, but it was still ugly and like a dead thing.  When his woman found that he was warming her dress, she thrust bright ornaments through it and it was again beautiful with green and red and blue and all colors.

So the three brothers, the South wind, the West wind, and the East wind continued to warm the dress, but the East wind was so lazy that he only worked occasionally in the evening.  Little Whirlwind was too small to do much work but he danced about over the dress and threw things in the air and tried to keep the South wind from grieving over his loss.  The South wind grew weary with grief and work and went to his tipi to sleep and left only the West wind to guard the dress.

Then the North wind freed himself and came.  He and the West wind fought furiously and the North wind was about to conquer and had destroyed all the ornaments on the dress and made it hard and cold.  When the North wind came, little Whirlwind sled to South wind’s tipi to tell him.  He found South wind asleep and could not wake him.  He tried and tried again and again, but could not wake him, so he ran all the way to the tipi of East wind who was sitting looking on at the fight between his brothers, intending to take sides with the one who won.  Little Whirlwind persuaded East wind to go with him and wake South wind.

When South wind was told what had happened he came in a great rage to the help of his brother, the West wind.  They fought all over the dress and finally North wind was driven back to his tipi, but he would slip away at night and embrace the dress and make it hard and cold until he was bound again.  Then the South wind and West wind had to warm the dress again and the woman under the dress had to push the ornaments through it again.  Thus began the warfare between the brothers which continues to the present time.

(this is a reprint of a post I made on my blog site on March 11th, 2013)

“Step High!” just got cast and colored with her patina – and she came out gorgeous!_MG_0766a_MG_0768a_MG_0769a_MG_0770_MG_0771_MG_0772_MG_0773

Step High!  She is the last horse of the first series.  I got the idea for the patina colors when Mark and I were driving to Ketchum last November on the way to see one of our (grown up) children for Thanksgiving.  We were driving by a part of Idaho were there are old lava fields and there was a plant growing in there that looked like it might have been a sage but had branches the color of dogwood branches – sort of a reddish purple eggplant kind of color and then the sage green of the leaves above – so there was this striking color combination of the black lava dirt the purpley red color and the sage green and I thought – I wonder if my patineur could do that maybe with some black veining running through it.  I know I freak her out every time I tell her what I want a patina to be – but she always tries to give me what I have in my head (no easy task) and does just a wonderful job!  Next Step High! will get a nice black marble base and then she will be ready to be previewed for the very first time at Rogoway Turquoise Tortoise Gallery for the art show on the 20th of April!


(this post is a reprint of a post made on my blog dated October 10th, 2012)

All the Missing Horses: What Happened to the Wild Horses Tom Davis Bought From the Gov’t?

A lone mustang who escaped the helicopters watches a Bureau of Land Management roundup in the Stone Cabin Valley in Nevada during the winter of 2012. (Dave Philipps)

by Dave Philipps, Special to ProPublica Sept. 28, 2012, 5:13 p.m.

The agency protects and manages herds of wild horses that still roam the American West, rounding up thousands of them each year to keep populations stable.

But by March, government pens and pastures were nearly full. Efforts to find new storage space had fallen flat. So had most attempts to persuade members of the public to adopt horses. Without a way to relieve the pressure, the agency faced a gridlock that would invite lawsuits and potentially cause long-term damage to the range.

So the BLM did something it has done increasingly over the last few years. It turned to a little-known Colorado livestock hauler named Tom Davis who was willing to buy hundreds of horses at a time, sight unseen, for $10 a head.

The BLM has sold Davis at least 1,700 wild horses and burros since 2009, agency records show [1] — 70 percent of the animals purchased through its sale program.

Like all buyers, Davis signs contracts promising that animals bought from the program will not be slaughtered and insists he finds them good homes.

But Davis is a longtime advocate of horse slaughter. By his own account, he has ducked Colorado law to move animals across state lines and will not say where they end up. He continues to buy wild horses for slaughter from Indian reservations, which are not protected by the same laws. And since 2010, he has been seeking investors for a slaughterhouse of his own.

“Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever eat is a fat yearling colt,” he said. “What is wrong with taking all those BLM horses they got all fat and shiny and setting up a kill plant?”

Animal welfare advocates fear that horses bought by Davis are being sent to the killing floor.

“The BLM says it protects wild horses,” said Laura Leigh, founder of the Nevada-based advocacy group Wild Horse Education, “but when they are selling to a guy like this you have to wonder.”

BLM officials say they carefully screen buyers and are adamant that no wild horses ever go to slaughter.

“We don’t feel compelled to sell to anybody we don’t feel good about,” agency spokesman Tom Gorey said. “We want the horses to be protected.”

Sally Spencer, who runs the wild horse sales program [2], said the agency has had no indication of problems with Davis and it would be unfair for the BLM to look more closely at him based on the volume of his purchases.

“It is no good to just stir up rumors,” she said. “We have never heard of him not being able to find homes. So people are innocent until proven guilty in the United States.”

Some BLM employees say privately that wild horse program officials may not want to look too closely at Davis. The agency has more wild horses than it knows what to do with, they say, and Davis has become a relief valve for a federal program plagued by conflict and cost over-runs.

“They are under a lot of pressure in Washington to make numbers,” said a BLM corral manager who did not want his name used because he feared retribution from the agency’s national office. “Maybe that is what this is about. They probably don’t want to look too careful at this guy.”


Wild horses embody the mythic West: Painted Indian war ponies and the cavalry mounts that chased them, pony express runners and the tough partners of cowboys.

At the turn of the 20th Century, they numbered in the millions, but most were rounded up, slaughtered, and used for pet food or fertilizer, until by 1970, there were only 17,000 left.

In 1971, Congress stepped in to save the remaining herds, passing a law [3] that declared wild horses “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West” and made it a crime for anyone to harass or kill wild horses on most federal land. The law tasked the departments of Interior and Agriculture with protecting the animals still roaming the range.

In a sense, the Bureau of Land Management — the part of the Interior Department assigned to oversee the wild horse program — succeeded in this a bit too well. Protected horses naturally began to reproduce and by 1983 there were an estimated 65,000 horses and burros on the range, competing for resources with cattle and native wildlife.

In the name of maintaining a sustainable balance, the BLM began removing horses from the wild. It now rounds up about 9,400 horses a year, which has kept the wild population at around 35,000.

The captured horses are put up for adoption. Almost anyone can have one for as little as $125 as long as they sign a contract promising not to sell it to slaughter.

Adoptions kept pace with round ups until investigations in the late 1980s and 1990s showed that many adopters, including several BLM employees, had turned a quick profit by selling the horses to slaughterhouses. To discourage such re-sales, the BLM began holding the title of sale for a year. Today the agency says it visits almost every adopter for a “compliance check” within six months to make sure horses are well cared for.

The restrictions protected horses, but discouraged adoptions, a trend compounded more recently by a bad economy and soaring hay prices.

Today, only one in three captured horses finds a home. The rest go into a warren of tax payer-funded corrals, feed lots and pastures collectively known as “the holding system.” Since horses often live 20 years after being captured, the holding population has grown steadily for decades from 1,600 in 1989 to more than 47,000. There are now more wild horses living in captivity than in the wild.

For decades, government auditors [4] and wild horse welfare advocates have warned that the policy of capturing and storing horses is unsustainable and have pushed for the BLM to use fertility controls, introduce predators or expand wild horse territories, but the agency has made little progress toward these goals. In the first half of this year, for example, it treated fewer than half as many wild horses with a birth control drug than was planned.

“I think they are caught in an old way of doing things,” said John Turner, an endocrinologist at University of Toledo who specializes in wild horse fertility control. “Once they round up the horses, I don’t think they like to treat and release. They would rather remove them.”

Driven by the cost of caring for unwanted wild horses, the annual price tag of the program has ballooned from $16 million in 1989 to $76 million today.

Cost pressures prompted Congress to pass a last-minute rider to a 2004 law directing the BLM to sell thousands of old or unadoptable wild horses for $10 a head without restrictions — even for slaughter — but the agency has not done so, fearing public outrage.


Instead, since then, the BLM has been selling horses, but requiring buyers to sign contracts [5] saying they will “not knowingly sell or transfer ownership of any listed wild horse and or burro to any person or organization with an intention to resell, trade, or give away the animal for processing into commercial products.” Violating the agreement is a felony, but there are no compliance checks similar to those done when horses are adopted.

Even when priced at less than a few bales of hay, these horses had little appeal: Sales dropped [6] from 1,468 in 2005 to 351 in 2008.

To explore other options for reducing the number of horses in holding, top BLM officials gathered for weekly closed-door meetings from July to October 2008. According to meeting minutes obtained by the Conquistador Equine Rescue & Advocacy Program, they considered selling thousands of animals for slaughter and even large-scale euthanasia, but concluded such actions would enrage animal-welfare activists to the point they might “threaten the safety of our facilities and our employees.”

No clear plan emerged.

As the wild horse program’s situation grew increasingly dire, a new option came knocking: Tom Davis.


Davis, 64, a plain-spoken man with a sun-beaten brow, makes his living hauling livestock, but says reselling wild horses now accounts for a substantial part of his income.

By his own account, he has worked around horses all his life — on racetracks, on ranches, and even rounding up wild horses for slaughter before the 1971 law put a stop to the practice.

For most of that time, he has lived in the tiny town of La Jara, in Colorado’s mountain-ringed San Luis Valley, just down the road from Ken Salazar, the former U.S. Senator who now heads the Department of the Interior.

“When my dad was alive we farmed their land,” Davis said of the Salazar family. “I like them. I do business with them. I do quite a bit of trucking for Ken.”

(Salazar did not respond to repeated interview requests for this story.)

On a warm morning in May, Davis gave a rambling two-hour interview on the 13-acre spread of corrals and truck lots where he lives.

Leaning against the fence of a muddy corral where a half dozen horses nibbled hay, wearing dusty overalls, Davis gave a simple reason for becoming the BLM’s main buyer.

“I love wild horses to death,” he said. “It’s like an addiction. For some it’s drugs, for me it’s horses.”

Tom Davis at his corrals in La Jara, Colo. (Dave Philipps)

According to BLM records, Davis first contacted the program in January 2008. Documents obtained from the agency show he filled out the application [7] to become a buyer over the phone, aided by Spencer, the BLM’s sales director, who wrote in his answers to questions on the form. (A BLM spokesman said in an email that agency employees often did this in the program’s early days, but no longer do.)

Under a question concerning Davis’ intended use of the animals, Spencer wrote “use for movies.” He later told other BLM employees he sold the horses to Mexican movie companies to use on film shoots.

Under a question about what type of horses Davis preferred, the application noted he would take males or females, so long as they were big.

At the bottom of the application, Spencer wrote that she and Davis had “Discussed goal of providing a good home and making sure none of the horses end up at slaughter plants.” A few weeks later, the BLM sent Davis 36 wild horses from its Cañon City, Colo., holding corral.

That was the only load the BLM sent Davis in 2008, records show. But in 2009 — a few months after the meetings about the holding crisis and two weeks after Salazar became head of the Interior Department — the agency started sending him truckload after truckload, from all over the West. Soon he was by far their biggest customer.

Davis bought 560 horses in 2009, another 332 animals in 2010, 599 more in 2011, and 239 in the first four months of 2012, agency records show. While most BLM buyers purchase one or two horses at a time, Davis averages 35 per purchase and has bought up to 240 at a time.

The animals came from the mountains of California and Wyoming, the mesas of Colorado and Utah, and the deserts of Nevada and Oregon. Many had lived for decades in the wild: Mature band stallions and resilient mares of every color descended from the first American horses.

Davis has paid the BLM a total of $17,630 for the animals, far less than BLM has expended to provide them – the agency estimates it costs $1,000 to roundup a wild horse and records show it has paid as much as $5,000 per truckload to ship them to Davis. Similar horses that are not acquired from the BLM and can legally be sold for slaughter fetch $300,000 to $600,000 on the open market, according to sales prices from regional livestock auctions.

Some BLM corral managers said in interviews they felt uneasy shipping so many horses to a single buyer, and one they knew so little about, but said such decisions weren’t up to them.

“That all happens in Washington,” one said, echoing the comments of many. “We are just peons. We do what we are told.”

Davis said BLM employees occasionally asked where his horses ended up, but said he tells them it’s “none of your damn business.”

“They never question me too hard. It makes ’em look good if they’re movin’ these horses, see?” he said. “Every horse I take from them saves them a lot of money. I’m doing them a favor. I’m doing the American people a favor.”


So what happened to the wild horses Davis purchased from the BLM?

The agency can’t say for sure. It does not hold onto the titles of wild horses acquired through its sale program as it does with horses that are adopted. Officials also have no process for following up to make sure buyers use animals as they claim they will in applications.

In the interview at the ranch, Davis said he had found most of the mustangs “good homes” on properties mostly in the southeastern states. Asked if he would provide records of these sales, he responded, “Ain’t no way in hell.”

A helicopter rounds up horses in the Stone Cabin Valley of Nevada in the winter of 2012. (Dave Philipps)

Other people who find homes for rescue horses in the region say they rely heavily on advertising and web sites to connect with buyers. Davis does not appear to do so.

“I’ve never heard of him,” said David Hesse, who runs Mustang and Wild Horse Rescue of Georgia [8]. “If he said he is finding homes for that many old, untamed mustangs, I’m skeptical. The market is deader than dead. I have trouble finding homes for even the ones that are saddle-broken. Wild ones? No way.”

On some sales applications, Davis has said he sells horses to graze on land used for oil and gas drilling in Texas, but oil industry experts contacted for this story said they had never heard of such a practice.

According to brand inspection documents [9] required by Colorado when livestock is sold or shipped more than 75 miles, Davis and his wife say they have sent 765 animals with BLM wild horse brands to a sparsely populated stretch of arid brush country along the Mexico border in Kinney County, Texas. (The records do not give specific addresses where animals were sent, but identify small towns, such as Spofford, as their destination.)

It’s impossible to confirm that the horses actually arrived there or to know where they might have gone next, however, because Texas is one of the few Western states that do not require brand inspections when horses are moved or sold.

Just south of Kinney County is Eagle Pass, a border town that isthe only crossing for horses going to slaughter in Mexico for hundreds of miles.

There have been no horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. since 2007, when Congress barred funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture horse meat inspectors. Since then horse slaughter has been outsourced. A 2011 report by the General Accountability Office [10] found the export of horses for slaughter to Mexico shot up 660 percent after the ban.

In Eagle Pass, as at other crossings, slaughter horses are checked by USDA veterinarians. A USDA spokeswoman refused to make veterinarians available for interviews, but confirmed that vets sometimes see wild horses bearing the BLM brand in slaughter export pens.

Brand documents leave almost 1,000 of Davis’s wild horses unaccounted for. That means they should still be within 75 miles of his residence — if he has complied with state law.

Asked if this was the case, Davis first said the horses were still on 160 acres of land he leases from the state of Colorado. Then he said some had been shipped out of state without brand inspections, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

“Since when is anything in this country done legal?” Davis said in a phone interview.


Had BLM officials inquired further about Davis, they might have found reason to question his plans for wild horses.

Davis is a vocal proponent of slaughtering wild horses in the holding system, which he considers a waste of resources. During the interview at his home, he said he would purchase far more horses if the BLM allowed him to resell them to so-called “kill buyers.”

“They are selling me mere hundreds now,” he said. “If they sold me 50,000, I guarantee I could do something with them. I would go to Canada. I would go to Mexico.”

Davis has close friends who export horses for slaughter, including Dennis Chavez, whose family runs one of largest export businesses in the southwest. In 1984, when Davis authored “Be Tough or be Gone [11],” a self-published book about a horseback ride he took from Mexico to Alaska, he dedicated it to Chavez’s father, Sonny Chavez.

Also, despite the obstacles that impede U.S. horse slaughterhouses, Davis said he has been trying to drum up investors to open a slaughter plant in Colorado.

He said he had approached pet food companies to buy the meat and asked Ken Salazar’s brother, John Salazar, who is the head of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, to help him get a grant to finance the business. John Salazar declined to help Davis, and so far the slaughterhouse venture has not gone forward.

“How can the BLM say with a straight face they are protecting wild horses when they deal with this guy?” said Leigh, of Wild Horse Education.

Animal welfare advocates have raised concerns about Davis’ purchases, but they say federal officials paid little attention.

In late 2010, the BLM rounded up 255 horses in the Adobe Town wild horse area [12] in Wyoming. A local loose knit group of advocates had been photographing the herd for years. After the round-up, group members called BLM officials, looking to adopt a few of the animals, particularly an old stallion they had named Grey Beard [13].

They were told that the horses had been claimed by an anonymous buyer who planned to resell them to large landowners looking for agricultural tax exemptions. The advocates tried to learn more about the buyer, but Spencer refused to give his name, citing privacy policies.

According to interviews and agency emails, group members told Spencer that anyone buying that many horses at once had to be a kill buyer.

Sandra Longley, one of the advocates, said in an email to another advocate that Spencer had assured her that the buyer in question had a long relationship with the BLM and was “above reproach.”

A BLM spokesman said Spencer did not recall the conversation.

According to BLM records, most of the horses were sold to Davis.

Warnings from advocates about Davis do not appear to have prompted the BLM to reconsider selling to him.In fact, internal agency email shows that officials actively turned to Davis to absorb freshly rounded-up horses so they wouldn’t end up in the overloaded holding system.

In January, the manager of the agency’s corral in Burns, Ore., emailed superiors in Washington, D.C., to ask what to do with 29 mares, almost all of which were pregnant. Spencer replied that Davis would take them.

In March, a corral manager emailed Spencer to say he had 92 “nice horses” just rounded up in High Rock, Calif., and to ask if Davis could take some of the geldings.


Freshly captured horses in the Stone Cabin Valley of Nevada wait in a BLM corral to be trucked to the holding system. (Dave Philipps)

A day later Spencer replied, “Davis told me that if the geldings are in good shape he will be able to place them into good homes.”

“How many would Mr. Davis want to buy?” the corral manager asked Spencer. “And are there any specifics that he is looking for?”

“He said he’d be interested in all of them, no specifics,” Spencer replied.

Spencer said in an interview she is under no pressure to approve buyers with questionable backgrounds and feels confident that “we do not sell to people we feel are going to do bad things to the horses.”

When asked about Davis, she said he had been thoroughly checked out and she had confidence in him. More generally, she said that if there were problems with a buyer, she would know.

“People watch where our horses go and the brands are very distinctive,” she said. “If things were going on, we would get a call.”

Davis’ most recent purchase was in April, when he bought 106 animals. Since then, the agency may have opened an inquiry into what he has done with horses bought from the BLM. In June, an agency investigator contacted this reporter seeking information about him. This month, however, the BLM assistant special investigator in Santa Fe (the contact supplied by the agency on this matter) said he was “unable to confirm or deny” that the BLM is investigating Davis.

Animal welfare advocates say the agency’s reliance on Davis is just another indication of how the wild horse program and its overburdened holding system have been mismanaged.

“He is just a symptom of the train wreck that is the Wild Horse and Burro program,” said Ginger Kathrens, director of the horse advocacy group The Cloud Foundation, based in Colorado Springs. “They just warehouse more and more horses and create their own crisis. Then, after they run the program into the ground, they have to find ways out of it. It is a whole unnatural ridiculous system run amok. And who pays the ultimate price? Wild horses.”

To contact Dave Philipps about this story, email him at

(this post is a reprint from my blog dated October 9th, 2012)

Cloud the StallionSo, my sculpture is going to be shown at the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park for a month and it’s great to be included in this show because its all about wild horses.  A percentage of the purchase price of the art purchased at this show benefits the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park which is a publicly supported 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting all disciplines of art in the greater Estes Valley, providing an affordable cost visual and performing arts programming year round, and acting as a vital information and support resource for the arts community (similar to a “Chamber for the Arts”) for the greater Estes Valley.  All the money that is collected as donations during this show will go to support The Cloud Foundation, named after the wild stallion you see pictured here.  Isn’t he beautiful?  He is actually a very well known wild horse and has starred in several films produced by Ginger Kathrens.  His family (yes wild horses exist in families just like us) has been disrupted by the “management” of the Bureau of Land Management for many years now.

This cause is something I support as I have time to support it; I sculpt wild horses, speak to wild horse advocacy issues in my blog, talk a bit about it on my website, send letters and make phone calls to Washington…I don’t feel that it is enough, but if every one does what they have time to do, it can make a big difference for these beautiful animals that are a cherished part of our world. 

I sure am excited to be included in this show!

Wild Horses, Wild Lands: Art Show and Evening with Cloud and Other Wild Horses

“An Evening With Cloud and Other Wild Horses”
Thursday October 11, 2012, 6:30-8:00 pm
Estes Park Resort (formerly Lake Shore Lodge)
1701 Big Thompson Ave in Estes Park
Ginger Kathrens, Emmy Award-winning film-maker and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, will give a presentation.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about her life with the young wild palomino colt she named Cloud, the Pryor Wild Horse Herd, and her fight to protect our American wild horses.
Free-will Donations accepted to benefit the Cloud Foundation

Mica and other mustangs will be available to meet before Ginger’s talk

New! Mica and other mustangs will be available for a meet and greet in front of the resort starting at 5:30pm before the talk.
Art Show at the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park
423 W. Elkhorn Ave., Estes Park, Colorado
• October 12 – November 11, “Wild Horses – Wild Lands”
Features 2 and 3 dimensional art works reflecting the majesty and beauty of America’s wild horses. Learn about the Cloud Foundation, dedicated to the preservation of wild horses on our public lands, and the protection of Cloud’s herd in the Arrowhead Mountains of Montana. Opening Reception: 10/12/12   5 to 8 PM.  Public Invited. Free.
and, here is another article that I found yesterday that I wanted to reprint from the Denver Post here:

Keegan: Dignity for wild horses

By Teresa Keegan The Denver Post


Would that I could unleash the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on the likes of Tom Davis.

He’s the Colorado livestock hauler who’s been buying wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management at ten bucks a head, less than I spend on lunch at Panera’s. Although he’s supposed to be finding “good homes” for the animals, wild horse advocates are concerned that he’s instead shipping them off for slaughter.

Given that he’s purchased at least 1,700 horses since 2009, I join the advocates in their skepticism. I doubt there are that many “good homes” for unwanted children, let alone 1,200-pound untrained animals.

His remark, as quoted in a recent Denver Post article, sets off further alarm: “Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever eat is a fat yearling colt.”

That comment turns my stomach. But why? I’m not a vegetarian. It’s surely the height of hypocrisy to eat meat and wear leather and yet decry the killing and eating of horses. Why should chickens, fish and cows be fair game for my palate but not the equine species?

Reason one: I’m a lifelong horse nut. And I have precedent for my feelings dating back to antiquity. Examples abound of horse worship in the ancient world. The emperor Caligula so adored his stallion Incinatus that he built for him a marble stable, fed him oats mixed with gold flakes and tried to make him a senator.

Alexander the Great named a city after his legendary steed, Bucephalus. Mongolians have revered ponies for centuries, so much so that horses outnumber people in their country. A horseless Genghis Khan would not have gone far.

Reason two: Horses are not merely livestock. They’ve been with us for thousands of years and have likely done more to change the course of human history than any other domesticated animal. They’ve carried soldiers into battle, bleeding and dying in wars not of their making. They’ve pulled plows, drawn wagons and delivered the mail. Riderless horses have accompanied our presidents to their final resting place.

Reason three: Evolving standards of decency. People are animals, too. There once were and may still be tribes who found the flesh of their fellow humans lip-smackingly delicious, but most people now recoil in horrified disgust from Hannibal the Cannibal. In America, we don’t eat each other. Nobody’s making Soylent Green. We’ve also added dogs and cats to the “forbidden foods” list. I say expand that category to include horses.

Now, before every farmer and rancher in the not-so-wild West writes in to excoriate me for my sentimental city-girl squeamishness, I understand there are too many wild horses and too few homes for them. Not many people can take on the enormous expenditure of time, work and money involved in owning a horse. There’s much truth to the old saying: if you want to make a small fortune in horses, start with a large fortune.

The BLM simply doesn’t have the resources to continue keeping excess horses in taxpayer-funded holding pens. I understand they can’t all be saved, as regrettable as that may be. But must we send such magnificent creatures to their deaths without even a blindfold and cigarette? Surely these fiery steeds deserve better than an ignominious death on the slaughterhouse floor.

One alternative: Let them be killed humanely in a solemn ceremony, complete with banners, bugles and flowery speeches to see them off on their last journey. Let their bodies be cremated and the ashes scattered over the plains where they once ran free.

Now that is a fitting end for these noble beasts who have served us so long and so well.

Behold a pale horse.

~Teresa Keegan lives in East Denver and works in the Denver district court system.







(this post is a reprint from my blog dated October 8th, 2012)

The whole Tom Davis thing has gotten my hackles up higher than they have always been.  The Universal Laws are at work, perhaps – to make something SO bad that finally enough people galvanize and make a difference.  Mis-information is generated by our political machine on many fronts…the wild horse issue is only one – but it is the one that I care about the most, silly as that may seem to many people.  Two of the most wonderful arguements for leaving the wild horses alone that I have found to date follow – this one today – the next one tomorrow.

This was written by Marybeth Devlin.  Thanks Marybeth, where ever you are.

There is scientific consensus: the horse originated in North America. It is a native species that was reintroduced in its ancestral homeland, the American West, about five hundred years ago. The horse was re-wilded.

When species go extinct in a particular habitat, efforts are often made to reestablish them. For instance, elk were once the most widely distributed deer in North America. By the end of the 19th century, however, they were extinct throughout most of their range. In Nevada, elk were reintroduced in the early 1930s. With protection, the elk rebounded and currently number over 15,000.

On public lands, non-native commercial livestock outnumber native wild horses by nearly 30 to 1. BLM allots approximately 8,600,000 monthly grazing units to livestock in the western states that have wild horse herds. Even in herd management areas, which are supposed to be dedicated primarily (though not exclusively) to wild horses, cattle typically get apportioned 90 percent of the grazing slots.

Wild horses are not a problem or the problem. They restore the range by their foraging habits. Cattle grazed alongside equids actually gain more weight. Horses and cattle are commensals, not competitors.

There is no competition among horses, deer, elk, or bighorn either. In fact, where the horse herds have increased, so have the other resident species. According to Holistic Management, to restore the rangeland, higher numbers of grazing animals are needed. A video presentation on Holistic Management is found at the link below.

Multi-year studies on three different wild-horse herds disclosed that mountain-lion predation alone can keep an equine population in check. Although preaching the goal of a “thriving natural ecological balance,” BLM exterminates native predators for the benefit of livestock operators and sport-hunters. The stealth beneficiary is BLM. By eliminating the predators, BLM positions itself as the sole population-control agent of wild horses and burros. BLM creates the problem, then requests a budget to solve it at taxpayer expense.

Independent fact-checking points to fewer than 13,000 wild horses and burros left on the range — about one-third the “38,000” figure that BLM continues to cite, year after year, no matter how many thousands it rounds up and removes. BLM’s data is bogus, ginned up to show a wild horse “excess” that does not exist. But Congress, the public, and the media innocently assume BLM’s information is valid. So they rely on it, quote it, and draw what must seem like logical conclusions based on it. Faux figures have been an issue at BLM for a long time. The Kearns & West report — a review that BLM commissioned in 2010 — noted that as far back as 1982 there was internal resistance to the way BLM was determining wild horse populations. The report cited a National Research Council Committee finding of “the pressures which many district and area personnel feel to depict range, population, and other conditions in an antihorse and antiburro context.”

BLM officially pledges to protect the wild horses from slaughter, but has been busy creating the very conditions that put the mustangs at risk — accumulating an excess of them in captivity, while keeping the herds below minimum viable population on the range. ProPublica’s investigative report evidences that, in secret, BLM has been selling Federally-protected wild horses to a kill-buyer with long-time business connections to the Secretary of the Interior.

It is time to divest BLM and defund the roundups. Return captive horses to freedom and revive the natural ecological balance on the People’s lands.

Already April !!

(this post is a reprint from my blog dated April 26th, 2012)

Incredibly, it’s April 26th.  Not generally, a good day for me – my little brother’s birthday was today…and since he has passed away, I can no longer wish him happy birthday.  Life is more fragile than we think about most of the time.

I have not written in my blog for very many Wednesdays now.  I have not been sculpting (until just two days ago) either.  I have been concentrating on getting my portfolio made, reproduced, and sent out to art galleries.  I have also been entering shows.

I go into all the whys for this in my newsletter and if you are curious and don’t get my newsletter – send me a note in Facebook or through my contact sheet on my website and I will add you as a subscriber.  The newsletters have lots of boring information about what I’ve been up to – but also, information about what I learn about making art my career and I share the resources I have found that help (or hurt) me along the way.

Artists are still not taken very seriously in terms of the fact that they are an important aspect of society in all the ways any other wage earner is – except artists must be intrepid enough to embrace that their art must fit into a – for lack of a better explanation – business model of some kind.  We work much harder than many, I think.  We think about what inspires us all the time.  We create, we also must sell, and market and book- keep and promote and correspond.  What we create is so personal and close to us, that to have it scrutinized by people we don’t even know can be too hard.  It takes an astronomical amount of psychic energy to remain determined and focused.

Artists have a responsibility, truly.  We interpret the world in a unique way just like everyone, but we are given the ability to manifest our unique interpretation into something that can be shared with a vast amount of people and enrich the lives of those people.  Something that can be seen visually-be that a book or painting or film, something that can be touched as well, (an element sculpture adds) – or something that can be heard such as music.  Combinations of these things – written words, lyrics added to music.  Taste – an amazing meal, a fabulous glass of wine.

Think of all the people in the world who have some incredible book they have written, one that would enlighten and inspire countless others.  But the book is never published.  A thousand reasons why, very good reasons perhaps.  But that person was given that story – and it was not meant to be kept a secret, was it?

Now.  I “see” these horses I sculpt.  How important to whom could a collection of horse sculpture possibly be?  I do not think that it is for me to say.  For me that destination is not important.  What I keep in my mind and my heart is that it is something I am supposed to do.  That feeling, the I AM SUPPOSED TO DO THIS, burns me up inside sometimes.  The “because” is not for me to know, and I very nearly do not care.  I may never know in my life.  I have an ego that says that fame and fortune might be fun – but living one day at I time I think that this is the day I will have and I must do what I have been directed to do.  Make the horses and share them in every way I can think of to do that.

(this post is a reprint from my blog dated February 8th, 2012)


An exciting week – all the Looks! have their new beautiful patinas and I am nearing completion of Leap!  On Friday, Relax! And Itchy! will be in the creative hands of Deb Bakel for their patinas as well so look for new photos of them all on my website by the end of the month.

So each week when I’m not sculpting – while surfing the internet, checking out potential galleries and what shows I would like to try to get juried into – always thinking about the wild horses (of course) which then occasionally leads me to think about politics…it’s interesting that they go together.  And I don’t really like to put my brain into political thinking mode because it usually is frustrating and depressing to me – there are so many things going on that cannot be seen, questions I think of that I cannot find straight answers for.  I didn’t think that in the beginning of my journey to sculpt our horses that I would be thinking about politics…but here I am, thinking about politics.  A lot.

I came across an interesting report published in 2006 by Taylor Jones and Mark Salvo titled “Mortgaging our Natural Heritage” – it begins:

     “What would you do if you owned 180 million acres of land in the American West? Would you lease almost 80 percent of it to livestock grazers (many of them corporations) for 10 percent of its market value, only to watch livestock shear off the native vegetation, erode the soil, degrade water quality, reduce water quantity, destroy riparian areas and harm endangered species, native plants, and wildlife? When grazing fees to use your land did not cover the cost of monitoring and protecting the natural resources, would you then pay millions of dollars of your own money every year to cover the shortfall?  And would you then stand by and watch as those abusing your land received additional millions of dollars in loans using the grazing privileges you granted as collateral for their debt?

     Bad news. You already are.

     On public lands owned by the American people and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), federally subsidized livestock grazing is rapidly destroying the vitality of our native ecosystems. There are many good arguments against continuing federal public lands ranching, including myriad economic and fiscal arguments. This report details another one.

     What has only recently come to light is how individual grazing permittees, with the aid of lending institutions and the tacit complicity of theBLM, collateralize their federal grazing permits to finance their public lands grazing operations. Both the Forest Service and theBLMsanction the use of publicly owned federal grazing permits and leases as collateral for private bank loans.”

Collateral for private bank loans?…..interesting.

Speaking of politics L I came across this diagram:

It’s a bit outdated – not reflecting where our current president would be, or those running for the GOP nomination…but it isn’t too hard to figure out where to put them.

Speaking of Economic Elitists,   I came across this as well:

“Although Norwegians may not tell you about this the first time you meet them, the fact remains that their society’s high level of freedom and broadly-shared prosperity began when workers and farmers, along with middle class allies, waged a nonviolent struggle that empowered the people to govern for the common good.”

This is the last paragraph of an article written by George Lakey called “How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘One Percent’”.

It’s thought provoking to be sure and this particular article is in a lot of places all over the internet – it seems that the Occupy Wall Street movement latched on to it.  Regardless of how you feel about OWS, though…read this article.

I believe history can teach us very relevant-to-today lessons.  This could be one.


Seriousness aside now:

ha ha ha ha ha!!!!


Back to the horses.

Have a great week!


It’s February!

(this is a reprint from my blog dated February 1, 2012)


So I’ve been working on several things this week in the studio. Got a Look! sculpture back from the patineur who will be doing the patinas on my sculpture – he is now a beautiful blue/green/brown with lacy white underneath.  I believe Deb said he has 7 different coats of various types of applications she used to get the effect.  Look! is very proud of his new “look”.

It is a beautiful patina for sure (and the photo below does not do it justice, but stay tuned…they will be on the website soon).

Thanks Deb!

bronze horse sculpture Look! Alex Alvis Sculpture

I have been working of Step High! as well, while waiting for various parts of Leap! to dry…since Step High! has only two feet on the ground, I am doing a lot of thinking about how to keep her free-standing.  It may not be possible to do until she is bronze, as the foundry could perhaps weigh her feet to keep her from falling over.

I cannot believe that it is February 1st already!  I have this voice that whispers that I must hurry…and so I do.  It is an exciting thing to have the time to work on the horses full-time and I love every minute I spend in the studio.

I got to spend time with real horses this week, as my cousins have a couple of them and we visited and groomed and it was a fun way to spend part of Sunday!  Thanks girls!

I finished reading “Straight from the Horse’s Heart” by R.T. Fitch.  If you love horses, it’s full of great stories and a portion of the proceeds from the book go to help Habitat for Horses help horses.

Every day horses are abused and across our borders (perhaps within our borders again soon) they are slaughtered.  There are proponents for and against the slaughter of horses.  Some people have the opinion that a quick death at a slaughter-house is preferable to a slow death from abandonment and abuse.  But is that really true?  Or is that just something we are told so that we will feel okay about it?  I think that they are just different sides of the same awful coin.

Rather than argue the ins and outs of how a horse dies in a slaughter-house (is it quick? Is it painless? …are you sure?) – I would simply argue that they are every bit (more so throughout history) as important a companion animal to us as dogs and cats.

Do we slaughter the dogs and cats no one can take care of and eat them?  Or ship their shrink wrapped bodies overseas so other people can eat them?  Does the thought of doing that make your stomach turn?  And since when do slaughter houses kill any animal in a “humane” or “painless” or non-terrifying-to-the animal way?

Why are the only alternatives to unwanted horses abuse, neglect or …slaughter?

Could it be because there is potential profit made from horses being slaughtered?


As it says at the end of R.T.’s book, “If these issues speak to your heart and soul contact Habitat for Horses and become a part of the movement to stop the shipping of horses across our borders for slaughter, save the wild Mustangs from extinction, and educate your family and friends on the plight of the American Horse in general.”