independence and a love of animals that goes beyond the mythic. They are the
cowgirls of Donna Howell-Sickles.
It all started with a postcard. Howell-Sickles came upon a 40ís-era, hand-
tinted postcard of a woman dressed in wild west gear astride a big sorrel horse
above the inscription, "Greetings from a real cowgirl from the olí Southwest."
"This was a wonderful image in that the colors were printed over the black and
white processing," Howell-Sickles says. "And her bright red lips were printed
just slightly off-center. That quality of the real and unreal fascinated me."
That postcard started the Texas Tech University graduate on a search for her
own American cowgirls, ones who were strong and joyous.
The search led to rodeos and Wild West shows, dating as far back as the 20ís
and reaching up until today. "I kind of got acquainted by name with all of
these old rodeo women," she says. "Wonderfully, wildly atypical for their
time." And from their inspiration and her own love of life and art, Howell-
Sickles created a new cowgirl for the 90ís and beyond.
Now her images are eagerly sought by collectors, galleries and museums and
adorn the walls of many a person who admires bold colors, decorative design and
symbolic strength. Howell-Sickles has had more than a dozen one-woman shows and
was named the featured artist at the American Woman Artist show at the National
Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming. Her book Cowgirl Rising was
published in 1997.