A photo of the fine art print “Two Friends Meet” by Gary Hawk, depicting local rancher Vernon Summer.

Courtesy photo

A photo of the fine art print “Two Friends Meet” by Gary Hawk, depicting local rancher Vernon Summer.

Tales from the Tread: "Two Friends Meet"


The public is cordially invited to the “Two Friends Meet” exhibit opening reception from 5 to 8 p.m. May 6 at the Tread of Pioneers Museum. The event is part of the First Friday Art Walk downtown, and the exhibit features fine art prints depicting local rancher Vernon Summer by watercolor artist Gary Hawk.

If you go:

What: “Two Friends Meet” exhibit opening reception

When: 5 to 8 p.m., May 6

Where: Tread of Pioneers Museum, 800 Oak St.

Cost: Free

These limited edition fine art prints created by Hawk, a renowned Western and wildlife watercolor artist, capture the mood, quality and simplistic lifestyle that is uniquely our local heritage. The prints were bequeathed to the Tread of Pioneers Museum by the Vernon Summer estate and feature Vernon Summer, the quintessential cowboy, working on his ranch in Sidney, just south of Steamboat Springs.

Vernon Summer

Vernon Summer was born in the town of Sidney in 1917. Summer’s grandfather came to the Yampa Valley in 1889 seeking land through the Homestead Act. Summer wanted to follow in his grandfather’s and father’s footsteps, and at age 17, decided to spend the rest of his life ranching, farming and caring for the land, which he did until his death at 95.

According to friends, Summer was one of the “last true cowboys.” He understood the land, the soil and his animals. He had a soft hand when needed and a strong hand when necessary. He led by example and devoted his free time to volunteering for the community with the rodeo, the Tread of Pioneers Museum, the National Ski Patrol and more.

Tales from the Tread

Tales from the Tread columns publish the first and third Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today.

Two friends meet

Gary Hawk spent his youth riding horses, working cattle and attending rural schools in Kansas. His subject matter has been inspired by these memories. In his paintings, Hawk tries to capture the mood and beauty of everyday scenes in the American West.

Vernon Summer and Gary Hawk met through Summer’s wife, Edythe. After Hawk paid a visit to the Summer ranch, the couple and Hawk became instant friends.

Year after year, the artist returned to visit and take photographs of the Summers' land, barn and Vernon working the ranch. Once back in his studio, Hawk created his watercolor paintings of the cowboy.

In 1979, Hawk was commissioned to create a series of murals by Sheplers, the world’s largest Western Wear retailer. Two of the four murals depict ranch life with Summer as the model and inspiration. Copies of the murals were displayed in stores around the country.

Hawk selected Summer as a model because according to Hawk, “Vernon was the quintessential cowboy. It was his character, you could just tell. It was everything, the way he stood, the way he talked, to his walk, he was a true cowboy. He was one of the greatest ranchers of his time and he looked the part too.”

The two remained friends for many years. The fine art prints in this exhibit were given to Summer by Hawk.

Following Summer’s death in 2012, the Tread of Pioneers Museum received the collection of fine art prints along with many other items of historical significance from four generations of Summer heirlooms. We hope you will join us on Friday to see the true spirit of our Western heritage preserved through this timeless art.


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