A good sculptor understands that he must know what goes beneath as well as what goes above to create a true piece of work. Years ago, Jay decided that he needed a longhorn skull to use for reference in his work. He contacted Jim Turner, a long-time Montana rancher and cattle breeder from Hobson, Montana, and after negotiations, which probably included a bronze trade, Jim agreed to let Jay have one of his good longhorn steers.
Jay hooked his old maroon Ford to the ‘bucket of rust’ horse trailer, lined with plywood to cover the worn out floorboards, picked up his old fishing partner, Ray Jacobsen, and headed east to Hobson. The trip was uneventful as two old friends talked about the good hunts, better friends and great whiskey that they had shared over the years.
Jay pulled right up to the corral, backed in and prepared to make a quick pickup and head back to the butcher in Great Falls. They sent the steer up the alley into the trailer and that critter made a U-turn so fast that he had all three cowboys jumping for the safety of the corral fence. The Boss not only left the trailer, he left the corral completely. It took a little wrangling but the guys finally had him back and ready for a second try at loading. Ray ran him in, Jay slammed the trailer gate, and the steer hit the roof.
Jay made quick work of getting back on the road, thinking that the animal used to the open range would settle down with the motion of the trailer. Wrong, it just made him madder. By the time they got back to Great Falls the horse trailer had dimples all over the roof from those long horns.
Butcher Cliff Crawford took one look at The Boss and knew that he would never have time for a shot if they let him out of the trailer. That steer would be over the fences and half way back to Texas if they gave him a chance. Logic prevailed. They shot him in the trailer, tied his hind legs to a set post in the corral, and Jay drove the trailer right out from under him.
This could have been the end of a good day, a good laugh and a job well done but we had to eat that critter. Jay was generous enough to share beef with family, his friends and anyone else he could give it to that year. Longhorn beef is not always the best, but beef from a guy who has spent his afternoon putting dimples in a horse trailer is just darn tough!
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Every one of Jay Contway’s sculptures is a story made into art. Sometimes it’s directly from one of his experiences and other times it’s from research. Either way, the art comes from Jay’s mind and hands to create a “Moment in Time” for you to enjoy.
Everyone loves a good story and that is why Jay is celebrating 50 years of creating art by sharing 50 stories about 50 bronze sculptures he has created over the past 50 years!
Follow Jay Contway on facebook and like his page here as he continues his “Moment in Time Project” through weekly posts throughout this year. You can also subscribe to receive a monthly email of the stories from the Jay Contway Moment in Time Project here just in case you missed any of the previous Facebook posts. To see all the July posts click here.
Thank you for following Jay as he turns his memories into art one moment at a time.