Like many of you, I suspect, I recently spent ten days in rodeo heaven watching the National Finals Rodeo. This year, the festivities included a new event: the naming of “NFR Icons,” honored with a banner hoisted into the rafters and their image enshrined in a bronze sculpture.
The first honorees were Ty Murray, Charmayne James, and Trevor Brazile. The reasons for honoring those three are many and well chronicled, so I won’t go into that. What I will mention is the bronze sculpture each received.
The sculptures are the creation of cowboy artist Jeff Wolf, a friend I have known since our boyhood days in the same hometown. Jeff’s work has been honored and exhibited and displayed and featured and awarded far and wide. And rightly so, as his depictions of Western life capture the soul and spirit of the people and the place, right down to the animals. His heart and hands find essence and energy in lumps of clay and breathe life into bronze.
I had the pleasure of seeing the NFR Icon sculptures in progress while visiting Jeff at his studio one day this past summer. That memory will be treasured as much by me as the finished works will be cherished by the recipients.
Jeff’s name as artist and creator was not mentioned in any of the reports I read about the NFR Icon honors. Shame. As well miss out a bronc, tip over a barrel, or break a barrier.