The Bootstrap Award was created in 2011, to honor the life of the late Margo Nuanez-Walker, a longstanding Board Member of the Dry Creek Arts Fellowship, and the work she wanted to see continue in Trappings of the American West. The award is given to an artist who has worked, as diligently as she did, to advance their chosen field.
Trappings artist, Jimmy “The Hat Man” Harrison donated a custom built hat to be awarded to the first recipient. The 2012 award winner was Bob Park and his Hand Tooled Briefcase. In turn, Bob tooled a beautiful floral patterned leather notebook with the DCAF logo for the 2013 recipient. Our 2013 winner was photographer Shane Knight who then donated a signed print for 2013. The 2014 winner was luthier William Burke for his mandocello. The tradition continues for our 2015 winner is Curt Mattson for his wonderful bronze “The Wild and The Woolly “. Curt is pictured below with DCAF Director Linda Stedman and the hand crafted walnut bowl by William Burke. Congratulations Curt!
The Story behind “The Wild and The Woolly” :
“This is a very special and unusual part of the history of early rodeo. This piece is about a woman named Lulu Parr who was one of the pioneer women in rodeo. She was very flamboyant and it was a great challenge to try and capture her spirit in this piece. One of the things that set her apart from the other women of that era was that she would ride buffalo in exhibitions at the early rodeos. So Lulu Parr really did ride bucking buffalo. The other challenge was that there are no photos of her or any other woman riding buffalo. There are only written accounts and one poster featuring her on a buffalo. That was it for image references! It took a lot of digging to get the information on what she wore and how the buffalo was rigged when she rode. With the help of many people it all came together!
Lulu was known for her abilities on bucking horses. She was crowned “Champion Lady Bucking Horse Rider of the World.” Lulu always wore her big brimmed hat at a bit of an angle. This spoke of her confident cowgirl “I can do anything” attitude. Her clothing is modeled from an actual outfit. A collector was good enough to give me photos of her outfit. It features beaded horses and stars. Her split leather riding skirt has fringe and brass studs along the bottom of the hem. She is wearing a beaded holster with a 45 caliber pistol. This pistol was given to her by Buffalo Bill Cody when she rode for his Wild West Show. One of the most remarkable features is her beaded lace up boots. They had various Indian designs on them and really gave her a striking look. Her leather gauntlets are beaded.
She has a big smile on her face as she looks down watching the head of the buffalo. When riding bucking stock, watching the head is important. This helps you know which way the animal might go next! She was always the show woman and had a long career in rodeo. As with so many of that time she did not make a lot of money and had her struggles. She died in Medway, Ohio in 1955 of a stroke. She had been taking care of her sister-in-law who was partially paralyzed. It was said that at the time of her death there were so many souvenirs in the house you couldn’t get around in it.
This piece is a tribute to an early rodeo woman. It will serve to preserve a part of her history for future generations. She and the buffalo are the original “The Wild and the Woolly”.”