Moore on Art by Deva Moore
The cowboy capital of the world is Bandera, Texas and that town houses a Gold Card lifetime member of the Professional Cowboys Association. Bill Stevens is that man, well, that cowboy! He is also an artist extraordinaire that paints, sculpts, draws cartoons and rodeos! His work has been widely collected in both public, private and even corporate collections all over the United States and abroad. His work has been exhibited in many prestigious western art shows. Stevens’ life full of experiences as a professional rodeo cowboy and extraordinary artist has allowed his super ability to bring all of it to life on canvas and in clay. Not to mention in his cartoons. Bill has competed successfully in bareback and saddle bronc, bull riding, calf roping and team roping events. While in college competing in intercollegiate rodeos, he qualified for the NIRA finals in bullriding.
If you enjoy roping, riding, rodeoing, painting, sculpture or some good cowboy humor, then Bill Stevens is the artist for you! Bill Stevens always knew he had artistry in his future when his drawings, doodles and painting garnered attention from his family and teachers. He was encouraged to enter some exhibitions and won many awards. To that point he had no real training and needed little assistance finding his niche entertaining or impressing his peers or mentors. Some of his artwork was for sale and he finds it funny that his first client was his grandma, who bought one of his pieces at his first show. Little did his grandma know that Bill’s talents lay in many different and diverse areas and soon he was adding another artistic skill to his ever growing toolbox of talent. He studied under many great Cowboy Artists of America such as Joe Beeler, Ray Andersen, Mehl Lawson, Fritz White, Roy Grinnell, Bruce Greene and Gary Carter! Pretty impressive for sure! CALF news magazine featured his cartoon series, “The Bull Pen.” Bill was the staff cartoonist for the Cattlemen’s Communications in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He has also taught classes at the Southwest School of Art and Craft and the San Antonio Academy in San Antonio, Texas. All this and he paints too? Yes he paints too! Bill has found that he only needs a few paint colors to create any thing he wants to paint, using the magic combination of three primary colors that he can use to create any color, tint or design he desires.
Bill has had his art exhibited in many places. Some of them have included the prestigious Mountain Oyster Art Show in Arizona, the Prairie Art show in Kansas, The Alamo Invitational Western Art Show in San Antonio, the Westheimer Art show in Houston, and of course at the Western Heritage Classic Art Show in Abilene and the Museum of Western Art in Kerrville.
As a young man, Bill had another love and that was watching rodeos. At the time, Bill and his family lived in the north so he attended Madison Square Garden to watch the rodeos performed there regularly. He gained an excitement and desire to join the “circus”. He already watched many hours of college rodeo each day and decided he would buy himself some rope and rigging and then practice his skills. This led to his registering and competing with some of the best cowboys in the world. It was not long until the name Bill Stevens was right up there with the best! But since everything Bill conquered he mastered it was no surprise that he added yet another craft to his toolbox of talent…cartoonist! The rodeo life encouraged some great cartoons and Bill found himself being sought after for his cartoon skills, especially his cowboy humor and a magazine from up state saw his work in the CALF news and asked him to submit some cartoons to them. They ran his cartoon and it gained attention and a huge fan base so after several months of being “guest cartoonist,” he thought his tenure was over and did not submit for the next month. The magazine contacted him and asked why he did not send in the next cartoon. Bill replied that he did not realize he was a regular cartoonist for that magazine. He found they loved his work and wanted him to continue. For the next 18 years Bill was their published cartoonist!
As you can tell, Bill is quite a character and this author could spend days entertaining you with his stories of his life. I will attempt to hit the highlights and share some info on obtaining more about Bill Stevens…but back to his rodeo history. Bill worked with a rodeo friend of his who made bull ropes. Bill rode his first bull out of the chute and was remarkably unimpressed. His thought was that this was no big deal and so he then proceeded to add bull riding to his list of accomplishments. Bill felt that he could be a roper and he was! He mastered the art and in 1970 with all these rodeo skills he was declared and honored to be a “pro” and became a PRCA cowboy. A gold card carrying pro cowboy!
Bill had a life changing event some years after he had become Pro. He drew chute #1 which he did not like at all. That night the bull knocked Bill out… right out of the chute. Bill woke up much later in the hospital and knew in a minute that he needed to stay with team roping considering he had a wife and two kids that needed him able bodied. Bull riding was in the rearview mirror. Providing for his family meant more than just rodeoing, so Bill evaluated his knowledge and his talents which were many. He had degrees from Texas A & M and University of Arizona. He had earned a degree in Animal Science Feedlot management among others. He put his degree to work, working for feed salesman as visiting speaker. Meetings were held for information and the feed stores and the feed companies would share the cost. Since Bill always traveled for work, he continued rodeos also. Many days found him speaking and the evenings and afternoons found him traveling to a rodeo. He participated in team roping, tie down roping and by now bronc riding. One of Bill’s famous quotes is “Nothing happens til you nod”.
Yet Bill was not through adding to his talents or expressing art in his life…he came into contact by choice with an artist we all know by the name of Jay Hester. Jay guided Bill in his bronze statue journey. Bill creates some of the most emotional evoking bronze statues. His connection and love for anything cowboy and western has led to some of the most gorgeous pieces ever created. If you do not own one then you should!
Bill also is a wonderful portrait artist and does commission work with his paintings, drawings, sculptures or maybe even a character cartoon. Bill’s cartoon books can be found in Bandera at the General Store on Main Street and the Spirits of Texas. He is hoping to have his cartoon books in more retail locations soon. Bill is currently in his 5th edition cartoon book! It is a good coffee table reader as well as fun for the whole family! One can check out his art at the Frontier Times Museum in Bandera.
In 2016 Bill Stevens was inducted into the Texas Heroes Hall of Honor.
One of Bill’s exciting sculpture projects was remaking the Drunken Dragon! The original had deteriorated to the point of falling apart. Bill was commissioned to repair the art structure. It is a beautiful sound structure of art to impress all who venture to see it.
Bill has an art studio in his home. He is always open to showing, chatting or sharing his wisdom so please call and make an appointment. He is not currently teaching any classes, but is always open to mentoring or as a guest speaker at an event. He was inspired by Charles Russell western art paintings and Bill always likes to inspire others to take up their own art challenges. No one is too young or old to create art.
Bill was commissioned by the Bandera Economic Development Corporation to be a part of the beautification project and create three murals depicting some Bandera western history. They are proudly displayed within the city of Bandera.
Give yourself an eye vacation and visit the Bill Stevens Walkin’ S Gallery, then seek one of his masterpieces for your own or as a gift. To quote an impressive artist…”Nothing happens til you nod!” So give yourself the nod to make the move so that you do not miss out on one the greatest Cowboys and his art! It should only take you 8 seconds to make that call!
Between Bill’s sculptures, paintings, and cartoons acquiring some cowboy or western art is as easy as visiting his website Walkin’ S Gallery or just google Bill Stevens. He can be reached by emailing him at email@example.com Or maybe just call him at 830-688-6784! You might even drop him a line or two to his address, PO box 1958 Bandera, Tx 78003.