Gallery Tour from the October issue of Cowboys & Indians

Artist spotlight: photographer Erika Haight

Erika Haight has a passion for the wild mustangs of the American West.

Freedom, giclée print

“The first time I saw them it was captivating,” Haight says. “They were wild and spirited. Their behavior was very different from that of domestic horses.”

Found primarily in Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming, these feral horses can be difficult to capture. But Haight has found a way to artistically corral their beauty and free-roaming lifestyle with digital photography.

She chose the digital medium because it allows her to manipulate the images — to enhance the texture, eliminate the flatness, and emphasize the feeling she has at the moment the photograph is taken.

“By making the photograph look like a painting, I can draw the viewer into the picture,” Haight says. “Anyone can take a snapshot of what’s in front of them, but after I work with my photographs, they become living pieces of art.”

A mother of two, Haight has always taken care to nurture her creative impulses even with her busy lifestyle. She took up photography eight years ago as a hobby and began shooting professionally only four years later. In the last several years, her work has matured, and the unique realism and energetic character of her finished photographs has gained recognition.

Her first gallery representation is with Montana Trails Gallery in Bozeman, where her work went on display in August. Haight developed an artistic eye for the West while growing up in rural Montana near the Crazy Mountains, where she was surrounded by horses and cattle — which may be why her ideal day is to be out in the middle of nowhere with her digital camera.

“I like the idea of a simple life, a slower pace, and wide open spaces,” she says. Haight hopes that her photographs will play some small part in helping preserve the wild mustangs of the American West by allowing viewers to experience their untamed beauty for years to come.

—Leanne Haase Goebel

Gallery: Montana Trails Gallery, Bozeman, Montana, 406.586.2166,

Issue: October 2009

Artist spotlight: painter Carol Hagan

Carol Hagan wasn’t always a painter. An accounting major in college, she started her own graphic design company 23 years ago, and you can see her prior experience in the striking and vibrant way she portrays her subjects on canvas. But she doesn’t regret the career change.

Headstrong Griz, oil on panel

“Many people could and should be artists, but they are too afraid,” Hagan says. “It’s sad. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have schooling, it comes from within.”

Today, Hagan lives and works near Billings, Montana. Her husband — her best friend and business partner — manages the business-side of things, leaving her free to paint and create.

Spending much of her life in Montana has allowed Hagan to nurture a deep love of the West.

“The fascinating history, stunning landscapes, and the people and animals who inhabit the West are all subjects that find their way into much of my current work,” she says.

Along with her many other achievements, Hagan’s work was included in the 40th annual C.M. Russell Art Auction, and she was also invited to participate in the Cowgirl Up! Art from the Other Half of the West Exhibition & Sale at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona.

Hagan is honored that her work is now included in galleries with artists she admires, but she sometimes wonders where she might have been if she had pursued fine art from the beginning of her career.

But instead of dwelling on the what-ifs, she is thankful that she finally picked up a paintbrush and started painting.

“Life is good,” says Hagan. “I’m so glad I followed my heart.”

—Leanne Haase Goebel

• Big Horn Galleries, Cody, Wyoming, 307.527.7587, and Tubac, Arizona, 520.398.9209,
• Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona, 480.945.8818, and Jackson, Wyoming, 307.739.9606,
• Legends, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 505.983.5639,
• Visions West Galleries, Livingston, Montana, 406.222.0337, Bozeman, Montana, 406.522.9946; and Denver, Colorado, 303.292.0909,

Issue: October 2009

Artist spotlight: painter and sculptor Barbara Meikle

Barbara Meikle is a self-professed late bloomer. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she graduated from the University of Denver in 1984 with a degree in painting and printmaking, but she didn’t start showing her work until 2001.

Ranch Hand, oil on canvas

“It takes a lot of courage [to be an artist],” Meikle says. “I had to learn to let go and do it. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”

Today, she owns her own gallery with artist Aleta Pippin and paints prolifically from her home studio in Tesuque, New Mexico, a few miles north of Santa Fe. Meikle describes her style as expressive impressionism. She began with watercolors but soon found that she wanted to work the surface of the canvas. She now paints in oil using an array of techniques in order to get the brilliant colors and textures she wants.

Some of her oil paintings have become nearly three dimensional, leading her to branch out into her latest medium — bronze sculpture. “It was a natural progression, but it took years,” she says. “By the time I’m 80 I think I’ll be a completely abstract painter.”

Although she used to paint outside in plein air, she now finds that her best work happens in the studio, where she is able to re-create the experience of a place or an animal while she paints or sculpts.

An animal lover since childhood — she drew her first horse at the age of two — Meikle is inspired by her own animals and those that live in northern New Mexico. She has also found a way to thank her equine muses: Meikle created a book of donkey images called The Donkey Diaries, part of the proceeds of which go to support Longhopes, a donkey shelter in Bennett, Colorado.

“It’s wonderful to give back, especially for creatures who can’t ask for help,” says Meikle.

—Leanne Haase Goebel

• Adagio Galleries, Palm Desert, California, 800.288.2230,
• Horizon Fine Art, Jackson, Wyoming, 307.739.1540,
• Pippin Meikle Fine Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 505.992.0400,
• Schilling Studio Gallery, Telluride, Colorado, 970.728.1345,

Issue: October 2009



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