Living on the Long Meadow Ranch near Prescott, Arizona, as a young boy and watching his working cowboy father, Bill Nebeker’s imagination was filled with visions of horses, cattle, roundups, and brandings. He has spent 50 years bringing those memories back to life in his bronze sculptures. Whether the subject matter is cowboys working cattle or roping horses, wildlife, or Native Americans, viewers are drawn into the historic tales Bill portrays.
With 38 years in the Cowboy Artists of America (CAA), Bill is now the senior active member of this historic organization, and he is honored and privileged to have worked alongside the greatest artists in this field. Bill is widely recognized as one of the preeminent sculptors of the horse and cowboy. The personal legacy passed down from his father, and his working experiences with cowboys, give his sculptures the real flavor of life in the Old West as well as today’s contemporary ranching and livestock industries.
Bill was extremely honored last year when his bronze, Double Trouble, won the 2016 James Bowie Sculpture Award at the Briscoe Western Art Museum’s Night of Artists Show. His next best honor was that his sculpture, Cold Mornin’ Cow Camp, won the 2016 Express Ranches Great American Cowboy Award during the Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition & Sale at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
By the 1860s the tides of cultural conflict had grown too strong to be reconciled by either whites or Indians. Treaties had been broken by renegade factions on both sides. In November 1864, after the brutal Sand Creek Massacre over 2,000 Cheyenne, Northern Arapahoe, and Sioux warriors set up encampments along the Republican River in Kansas. There was a report which said, “The White Man has taken our lands, killed our game, and now kills our women and children. Their treaties are only crooked, broken words. Break the peace pipe and raise the war club.”
There is an old saying, “A good dog is worth three cowboys, and a bad dog is like losing a whole crew of cowboys.” Some ranches don’t allow dogs at all, but Bill feels that a good, well trained one is a wonder to watch. Rough country outfits use dogs to find and hold cattle that try to get away during gatherings. Open country ranches use other breeds of dogs to herd their cattle.
A cowboy with a good dog can get a lot of work done. Not every horse will allow a dog to hitch a ride – it takes some training and getting used to. This cowboy needs to cover a large amount of rough country and is giving one Amigo a ride on his other Amigo.