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 Jim Ward  (1931 - )

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Lived/Active: Texas      Known for: realist western painter and sculptor

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from Auction House Records.
Prairie Mother
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A painter of sculptor depicting ranch life of Texas especially horses, Jim Ward is basically self taught, having studied only with the Famous Artists correspondance course, taking five years to complete the three-year requirement.  Then he worked three years as a commercial artist before feeling financially comfortable enough to paint full time.

He was born in Fort Worth in 1931, and from 1965 has lived in Canyon, Texas. 

He spent his childhood in Austin, and as a teenager broke horses.  He also worked as a rodeo clown but quit when he was a senior at Oklahoma State University and joined the Army.  He returned to college and took a degree in 1953 in animal husbandry.  He worked another year on the rodeo circuit, then as instructor in agriculture, ranch manager and land appraiser.

By 1973, Ward was a charter member of the Texas Cowboy Artists Association.

Peggy and Harold Samuels, Contemporary Western Artists, p. 560

Biography from Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum:

Submitted by Michael Grauer, Curator of the Panhandle Plains Museum, who wrote the article for America's Horse magazine. 

Jim Ward couldn’t have landed in a better place for a cowboy artist.   Canyon, Texas, where Ward runs his ranchito and maintains his studio south of town, is perfectly located for a painter of Westerns.   The landscape of the area, a legitimate subject in its own right, provides ideal settings for Western paintings.   Palo Duro Canyon is only twelve miles east of Canyon and Tule Canyon and the Caprock Canyonlands are only slightly farther away to the southeast.  Within an hour’s drive north and west are the Canadian River Valley and the western escarpment of the Llano Estacado, respectively.  And the Sangre de Cristos, Rockies, Davis Mountains, and the Hill Country are an easy day trip away.

The Canyon area is literally surrounded by the history of Texas ranching.  Charles Goodnight’s brothers-in-law, Leigh R. and Walter Dyer drove 400 cattle to Spring Draw in Randall County near the junction of Palo Duro and Tierra Blanca creeks in the fall of 1877, and founded the T Anchor Ranch.  The Dyer brothers cut cedar logs in the canyons nearby, hauled them by the old Timber Creek Indian trail, and constructed a two-room log cabin for their headquarters, about two miles north of the present site of Canyon.    In August 1882, the T-Anchor held “the largest single cattle drive in history.”   Sixteen cowboys with a remuda of 125 horses herded 10,652 cattle out of Tule Canyon and back to the home ranch.   The T-Anchor Ranch operated under several sets of owners until 1902.   For several years an annual reunion of former T Anchor employees, known officially as "The Old Time Cowpunchers' Roundup of Each Other on the T Anchor Range," was held at the old log headquarters.

About 1900, Canyon City, Texas, was the largest cattle shipping point in the world.   Charles Goodnight and John Adair established the J A Ranch about fifty miles east of Canyon in 1876.  On Goodnight’s heels came T. S. Bugbee who founded the Quarter Circle T, the second oldest ranch in the Panhandle in 1876, to the northeast, and later the Shoe Bar to the east of Canyon.  The famed the R O Ranch headquartered near Clarendon to the east; to the northeast the Burnett-Dixon Creek-6666 Ranch; to the north the Turkey Track; and to the west/northwest lay the XIT Ranch. 

Into this ground steeped in Western history and fertile for the cowboy artist’s brush and chisel came Jim Ward in 1957, when he became manager of the famed Muleshoe Ranch.   About eighty miles southwest of Canyon, the Muleshoe Ranch gave its name to the town of Muleshoe in Bailey County. Originally part of the vast XIT, the Muleshoe Ranch was begun in 1903, by Edward K. Warren and his son Charles.   The Warrens added even more former XIT acreage in 1907, and by 1910 subsequent purchases and leases had enlarged their empire to 150,000 acres along Blackwater Draw, covering portions of Bailey, Lamb, Castro, and Parmer counties.  The headquarters for this operation was established west of the future townsite of Muleshoe.

Jim Ward came to this wonderful country by a circuitous route.  Born at Fort Worth in 1931, Ward moved with his family to rural Austin.  Ward’s grandfather homesteaded in Quay County, New Mexico, and his father worked and traded horses and cattle.  Ward and his brother broke horses for their father, a butcher by trade.  Losing his mother in 1947, Ward moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where his older brother attended Oklahoma State University.  Ward graduated from Stillwater High School, then enrolled at OSU where he played football until a knee injury ended his football career.   He then turned to rodeo, riding broncs, bulldogging, and fighting bulls during summers to earn tuition and book money.  Ward also enrolled in ROTC, completing his military training and receiving his commission in 1952.   After six months at Fort Benning, Georgia, he was given a medical discharge because of his knee injury.   He returned to OSU, graduating in 1953.

After graduation, Ward continued rodeoing in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, and began his art career.  Although he had no formal training, he had sketched horses throughout his life.  He started by painting rodeo advertisements in the windows of businesses for $5.  Ward told The Quarter Horse Journal in December 1970: “It kinda stretches the point to call it art, but it did pay my entry fees in rodeos and bought a few bowls of chili.”  He also said when a woman brought him a piece of poster board and asked him to paint a bucking bull on it, he charged her $10 and that was his first real painting.

About this time Ward met, courted, and married his wife, Jackie Mahoney of Antlers, Oklahoma, in 1954.   Ward quickly swept his new bride off to the wilds of Nebraska where he taught Veterans agricultural courses and continued to rodeo in Nebraska and South Dakota.  He also ran a custom cattle service in Nebraska then became assistant county agent at Muleshoe.     In 1957, Ward became manager of the Muleshoe Ranch. 

Ward says there are two necessities to be an artist:  “You hope the good Lord has given you the talent” and “a very understanding [spouse] to support you.”  He also pointed out that a successful marriage is a two way street.  So, in order to fulfill his wife’s dream of teaching full time, the couple moved to Canyon in the mid 1960s. 

For some years he had wanted to paint seriously but making a living took precedence.  Ward took art correspondence courses and soon took a leap of faith for his art.  In 1964, he began his career as staff artist for the Quarter Horse Journal.  His work also appeared in True West, The Cattleman, Ranchman, and Paint Horse Journal, and in 1966 he became art director for the Amarillo-based magazine, Irrigation Age.   Finally, Ward began easel painting and sculpting full time in 1967.  Ward had been “fooling around with clay” since 1965 and within a few years installed his own bronze foundry.  By 1970 he was casting bronze sculptures of cowboys, cattle, and Western animals in editions of 12 to 30.

Ward said he was invited out on the Harrell and Quien Sabe ranches in the Panhandle.   So, he went and “got in their way while they were cowboyin’.”   He sketched while the cowboys were “tailin,’ ropin,’ and draggin’ calves.”   Ward says working back and forth in several media allows him to keep each piece fresh.  When asked by an Amarillo newspaper reporter what helped him in his paintings of cowboy life, Ward replied that it “helped to be half horse.”

In the early 1970s, Ward and ten other artists founded the Texas Cowboy Artists Association and books of their work were published in 1975 and 1986.  Galleries in Austin, Dallas, and Amarillo, and in New Mexico and Wyoming handle his work. 

Recent accomplishments include selection as one of the top 100 artists in the “Art For The Parks” nationally-touring exhibition.  From his Canyon studio, Ward has sent his work to numerous national exhibitions including the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition; the Mountain Oyster Club; the George Phippen Western Show; the Panhandle-Plains Invitational; and Nature Works.

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum at Canyon, Texas, will feature the work of Jim Ward this fall and winter.  Beginning November 12, “Jim Ward: Texas Cowboy Artist” will be shown in the Foran Galleries.      “Jim Ward: Texas Cowboy Artist” runs through February 19, 2006.

Biography from Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum:
"After a knee injury ended his football career at Oklahoma State University, Jim Ward returned to rodeo, riding broncos, bulldogging, and fighting bulls to earn tuition and book money.  After graduating from OSU, Ward continued rodeoing in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, and began painting windows for businesses advertising rodeos.
In 1957, Ward began painting seriously.  He became staff artist for the Quarterhorse Journal, with his work reproduced in True West, The Cattleman, Ranchman, and Paint Horse Journal.  Later he became art director for Irrigation Age, but returned to easel painting full time in 1967.

Recent accomplishments include selection as one of the top 100 artists in the "Art for the Parks" nationally-touring exhibition."
Jim Ward is a charter member and past president of the Texas Cowboy Artists Association.  His works in oil, pastel, and bronze emphasizing the cowboy and the Western wildlife. 

He lives in Canyon, Texas with his wife, Jackie.

Information from the Panhandle Plains News, Fall 2005, newsletter of the Panhandle Plains Museum.

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