stirrup

Saddle and Stirrup

 

Saddle and Stirrup

Saddle and Stirrup

Historically, the birth of art might be thought of as the moment that human thought moved beyond the need for simple pragmatic use of an object, the instant that humankind realized beauty was a function unto itself. We’ve debated its meaning and limits ever since, but one thing is clear: we need art.

A simple look at the American saddle, with its intricate patterns, scrollwork, textures, lines, and shadows reminds us that even in the most sparse and the most rural conditions, the human mind still turns to decoration, to beauty, to the aesthetic. So while it serves as an icon or symbol of the West, the saddle retains a personal and separate set of connotations for the American ranch hand.

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Tough Hands No. 2

Tough Hands No. 2

Tough Hands No. 2

“That looks like an advertising image,” said Liz, my friend and fellow professional photographer.

“Maybe,” I answered, “but there’s a difference between an advertising image and this one.”

“Oh? What’s that,” Liz asked.

“Look at the boot,” I returned. “No advertising image could capture a boot that had been so ‘prettied up’ by ranch life. This is a document, not propaganda.”

Liz and I have shot together for countless hours, brandings upon brandings, landscapes beyond count, ghost towns unnamed. She sat and pondered for a moment, then spoke.

“Mmm-hmm. You’re right. That boot couldn’t be anything but real.”