Joelle Smith was the featured Cowboy Festival poster artist for two straight years for the City of Santa Clarita and has many friends in the area. Joelle Smith, died on Friday, August 5, 2005, after a two year battle with cancer. Joelle had a profound impact on a lot of people in this community and some of her friends are holding a memorial benefit to help pay her many medical bills. The benefit will be held on Saturday, September 17, 2005, beginning at 4 p.m.
A cowboy-style benefit concert featuring Don Edwards, Randy Rieman, Stephanie Davis and Virginia Bennet, plus a BBQ dinner, courtesy of the Visalia Cowboy Cultural Committee and a live and silent auction will be held. Auction info is available at www.calclassics.net.
Location: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 24901 Orchard Village Road in Santa Clarita.
Tickets: $100 each, make checks payable to FCC Benevolent Fund
Mail to: Smith Benefit, c/o Gary Brown, 12160 Ave. 274, Visalia, CA 93277.
More information is available at 1-866-791-5170. (Edited excerpts from a story written about Joelle Smith for The Signal, March 26, 2003 by former Signal Staff Writer, Margie Anne Clark, currently, Managing Editor, Élite Magazine)
As a nationally known western artist who lives her subject matter, Joelle Smith sees her artwork as a progression. Her talent is regularly on display throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, in the form of banners, bus stop posters, and wall art. Smith is the City of Santa Clarita’s Cowboy Festival poster artist for the 9th and10th annual Cowboy Festivals. Smith, who lives in tiny Alfalfa, Ore. when she isn’t traveling, is excited about being a part of the Cowboy Poetry and Music Festival. “I look forward to seeing friends at the event,” Smith said. “I have met many of my friends by showing my work at Cowboy Poetry gatherings, so the events become gathering places to visit, as well as to sell my work.” A versatile artist, Smith has produced artwork for album covers for Lorraine Rawls and Don Edwards. She also created the 2002 poster for “The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame” in Ft. Worth, Texas. She has currently has more album covers in the works. In addition to her album covers, Smith’s collaboration with Rockmount Ranchwear in Denver has led Smith to designing silk scarves and neckties with western themes. A newfound facility for computer work has made the designing process easier, and has also led Smith to build her own Web site. Gail Ortiz, public information officer for the City of Santa Clarita said she is impressed by Smith’s work. “Joelle is a cowgirl at heart and in life, bringing her love of the western lifestyle to her canvases,” Ortiz said. “We are pleased and excited to have Joelle as our festival poster artist for our 10thannual event.” In addition to creating the poster art for the City’s Cowboy Festival, Smith has created posters for the Monterey Cowboy Poetry Festival, and the Visalia Round Up. “Joelle Smith is a truly talented artist, having her work appear on the cover of Western Horseman magazine as well as the city of Santa Clarita’s Cowboy Festival poster in 2002,” Ortiz said.
The City of Santa Clarita’s 10th annual festival poster design was inspired by her friend and cowboy crooner, Don Edwards, who is a featured entertainer at the City’s annual festival. “Don and Kathy Edwards are good friends of mine, and since Don has performed every year of Santa Clarita’s gathering, it was a perfect subject for the 10th anniversary,” Smith said. In capturing the ideal image of Edwards, Smith set up a photo shoot at Melody Ranch last year to get the material for the painting. “I shot most of the material on Main Street, and had finished getting what I thought I would need, when we came across the wooden gate outside the “Hopalong Cassidy house” at the ranch,” Smith said. “Don rode around behind the gate as I got my cameras back out, and that became the base for the image,” she said, adding that the round inset depicting Edwards and his wife are from the material she shot on Main Street. “There is a rose that grows outside the “Hoppy” house, so that is why I chose that particular flower for the border,” Smith said. Though Smith said her approach to designing posters has evolved in recent years, “I usually do not pose my subjects, but try to capture them in their natural environment, more in a documentary style,” Smith said. As an artist and an equestrian, Smith stressed the importance of preserving the legacy of the cowboy. “The image of the cowboy is a truly American image,” Smith said. “The real working cowboy is loyal, independent, someone with respect for the animals and the land that they tend, and work long hours for little pay for a lifestyle that they love…the type of dedication that this country was built on.” Smith was given her first pony at the age of 10 after begging her parents for a horse. She named her pony George, but eventually found herself without a horse by her senior year of high school due to housing developments which made it difficult to find place where she could afford to keep her pony. But as fate would have it, Smith found out that Southern Oregon State College, as it was then, in Ashland, had a “school pasture” where students could keep a horse for $15 a month. She went to a few classes, saved her money, bought another horse, and moved to Ashland. Smith has six horses in the pasture behind her home in Alfalfa Oregon. Two of the signature mares inspired the logo for Smith’s Rosenbo Print Company. The mares are Bo, a Freckles mare she bought while living in Ashland, and Rose, a granddaughter of Two Eyed Jack that joined the herd when Smith was living in Montana. In addition to her mares, Joelle raised several paint colts from the mares. Despite her ostensibly carefree lifestyle, Smith said her work is a business complete with deadlines and plenty of pressure. She suggests that no one but the “totally obsessed” should even consider it as a way of making a living. “To be a cowboy is a title that has to be earned,” Smith said.” Most people have never come in contact with the “real” thing . . . mainly because the real working cowboy inhabits the isolated parts of this country,” said Smith, a full time professional artists. Smith said she has found the techniques that help her with her art also translate to working with the horses. She said she associates working horses with artwork, explaining that artists learn by repetition, while pushing it and improving a little bit further each time. Her mom and dad encouraged her interest in horses and art during Smith’s childhood years. Smith said the creed of the cowboy is an ideal she hopes to preserve through her painting. “That is part of the reason why it is so important that I document this culture, the culture of working with cattle and horses for a living,
so that others can be exposed to it, as well as document this lifestyle for future generations.” Smith worked strictly in watercolor for more than 20 years. About five years ago she started working in oil and last year she began to work in bronze sculpture. Her mom Sally Smith takes care of the business side of her daughter’s creativity by fielding phone calls and taking care of the books. Smith said working in a variety of mediums is a great way to keep her work fresh. Her traditional watercolor work is what’s most familiar to those acquainted with her work. A purist in terms of her palette, Smith uses no white pigment in her work lending a luminous opacity to her paintings. But her work is inspired as much by her friends as it is by the lifestyle she has chosen for herself. While being a full time artist can prove challenging, Smith is happy with her choice. “It enables me to live the type of life that I enjoy, one with constant contact with my own horses, and to live on the edge of the working cowboy culture,” Smith said. “It is an honor to document these hard working individuals and their horses, and an honor that they allow me to do so.”
For information about Joelle Smith, visit www.joellesmith.com.