Smoke Signals newsletter

    Picturing The West

Veryl Goodnight with two of her dogsVeryl Goodnight

An artist’s goal is make you think, see or feel. You should be able to use their sculptures or paintings to cultivate your vision of the West. From the day I met Veryl Goodnight I felt connected to her passion for art. Whether her zeal is for domestic animals, wildlife or people, especially cowgirls, she escorts you to a place where you bear the fruit of her vision of the West!

Living in Southwestern Colorado, overlooking Mesa Verde National Park, Veryl and her husband live immersed in the nature they love. From her window drenched home, she paints the mountain peaks and red rock canyons. Outside her doorstep, she sculpts in the barn studio while the animals graze. Her animals. She paints and sculpts those that she has owned or raised. Burros graze while foxes scamper, kittens become skittish and eagles soar on her 57 acres, only a mile off the beautiful scenic San Juan Skyway. “Everywhere I look are perfect scenes. I don’t even have to get out of bed to see the beauty and vision of my paintings.”

A New BeginningCowgirls rule! Veryl cherishes the women who have blazed new trails. “Those tough yet feminine women, resilient yet fiercely capable, who settled the West, wielding rifles or stepping out of Well Fargo carriages in their western garments and hats, are the women I sculpt. The strength of these women balance the compassion of her little girls who lead their cow back home. Tough and tender,” says Veryl. (A New Beginning bronze is a woman dressed in a 1890s traveling suit carrying a carpet bag representing new opportunities for Women’s Rights, as Wyoming blazed the trail as the first state to pass Women’s rights.)

sled dogs sculptureThe sled dogs that capture her attention live with her today. She first went to Minnesota to work with some dog sled teams then returned home and had 4 historical harnesses and clothing made. The first mail pulled by dogs was near Lake Superior in 1778 and worked until 1963 in Alaska. Even around Silverton a cart pulled water and mail at 9000 feet. At the end of the day the men drank whiskey with the dogs in the bar! (Village Kinship painting)

Burros. Who can resist these tiny 4-legged creatures that take the load off of men and miners. These 500 pound working burros have carried up to 120 lbs or silver and gold ore for miners, with their docile determination and ability to navigate narrow trails often above 11,000 feet in elevation. (Olga’s Return, painting)

The National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame honored Veryl in October by inducting her into the Hall of Fame. What a fine choice! The art of our newly inducted Cowgirl focuses from 1986 to 2013. Western Women are prime in this show, of course! No Turning Back (featuring her her iconic, 16 year old model) shows the vulnerability of the young women of the West venturing into the unknown. The Hidden Stream features a mature woman leaning on the side of the field, looking out with extreme strength and confidence. These two pieces, of women perhaps 2 decades apart, represent innocence to maturity. And Ready to Ride, one of my favorite women of the West represents femininity and toughness!

Veryl at CowgirlAfter close to 50 years in the art world, Veryl has gotten attention from NUMEROUS institutions but I will condense her curriculum vitae by mentioning the Gilcrease, who honored her in 2011 with a retrospective, Berlin, Germany 1998, that installed her 7-ton sculpture of five horses jumping over the fallen Berlin Wall (The Day the Wall Came Down), its sister casting at the George H Bush Memorial Library at Texas A&M University, the Desert Caballeros Museum in Wickenburg that honored her Ready to Ride and gave her Best of Show at Cowgirl Up, A New Beginning installed in both the new Colorado History Museum in Denver and the center of town in Cheyenne, Wyoming “.

The Cowgirls museum has 17 of Goodnight’s stunning bronze sculptures and 11 breathtaking paintings with themes of wildlife, horses and Western women on loan to celebrate her Induction. Veryl talks about her career, which is in full bloom. After half a century of art, she effusively declares, “I am not finished at all. I have not slowed down – I’ve sped up. I’m excited about blazing new trails.“ We are excited to watch Veryl as she blazes these new trails.”

—Linda Kohn Sherwood


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Mission Statement

Smoke Signals blows your way from High Noon Western Americana of Los Angeles, California, producers of the High Noon Antique Show & Auction for 25 years (1991-2014). Smoke Signals eMagazine was founded in 2010 from a desire to share thoughts and facts with the High Noon community and look at what is going on in the Western world while feeding our readers with great recipes and giving advertisers a chance to blow their own smoke.

And hopefully we educate along the way.

Linda Kohn Sherwood, Editor

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