Peggy Judy’s style as a painter is reminiscent of her surroundings: sharp edges, dusty colors, strong negative space, and a snapshot of the Old West. She always wanted to be an artist. “That or a lion tamer,” she laughs. “It’s the same thing, really—you have to control them, but also let it go at the same time.” After having bred and raised horses for 35 years, Peggy and her husband said goodbye to the sport horses she trained on their farm, and shifted gears to appreciate the working horses of the ranching world—with her camera and paintbrush in hand.
Judy always has her camera available to take reference photographs for her expressionistic paintings. Outside her back door, open plains are punctuated by rolling silt Adobes, the spire of an ancient volcano, ranches, fences, cattle and, of course, horses. “I love to pull over and capture the way the light hits a horse,” shares Peggy. “It’s usually what catches my eye—the shadows—I love it when the sun works with me. I know it as soon as the shutter closes that that [photograph] is going to be the one.”
Her surroundings are a modern-day reminder of the history of the West. “I am really drawn to Western Art because the Old West still exists,” explains Judy. “It’s not just in the movies. The Western way of life is still here. It’s still real. It’s still important. Without the ranching and the agriculture, where would we be?”
The tight-knit community of Crawford strikes Peggy as part of the beauty of where she lives. Last weekend she went to a branding at a neighbor’s ranch to help and take photographs. “Five ranches pulled together to work on one ranch, and the next day they went to the next ranch, then the third ranch until everyone is done,” shared Judy. “No one got paid, everyone just came together. It takes a community.”
Peggy doesn’t live in the past, although she does admit that Crawford is as Wild West as it gets, with adaptations for the modern day. “My background is in illustration, and I like telling the story,” reflects Judy. “Like all things, ranching has evolved. They use modern things—trucks, trailers, four wheelers– but it’s still grounded in the animals, the horses, the dogs, and the partnership between people.”
Having always been a visual communicator, Peggy’s message with this series of work is strong and simple: to give the ranchers tribute; to show the world that they do exist, they are important, and they deserve a chance to be recognized for their hard work.
Peggy Judy is the featured artist in the solo exhibition, Artist & Horse: A Perfect Pair, on view at Ann Korologos Gallery from April 13 to April 30, 2019.
“What would I say about being an artist? Jump in feet first and go for it. What do you have to lose? Everything evolves, you know? Otherwise, why do it?”Peggy Judy