Joe Beeler grew up in the Osage country of the Missouri-Oklahoma borderland like a young Huck Finn on horseback. With a pedigree that traces to a proud people enriched by Cherokee blood, he learned early how to rope, ride and hunt, and soon developed a knack for drawing cowboys, Indians and horses. He filled his head and heart with tales of old-timers, with his own adventures of horses and cattle, and with the vivid impressions of the swirling color and excitement of Quapaw powwows.
After a stint in Korea with Uncle Sam, Beeler met and married Sharon McPherson in the summer of 1956. He earned a degree in fine art from Kansas State College, and then went on to California for further study at the Art Center School in Los Angeles. Back in Osage country after just a year out West, the Beelers settled in a small rural cabin where Joe struggled to paint for a living with time off daily to shoot something for supper.
Tough times measure a man's mettle. Beeler painted neighboring ranchers' prize bulls and horses, and worked tirelessly on more meaningful pieces in the tradition of his hero, Charlie Russell. Recognition came slow, but it came, and in 1961 the Beelers left the Oklahoma hills for the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. With new country and fresh inspiration, Beeler's talent quickened to a gallop.
In the almost 40 years since, Beeler has earned his place in the vanguard of the contemporary Western art movement, with one-man exhibitions at every major Western art museum venue and as a founding member of the Cowboy Artists of America.
The faces in Joe Beeler's paintings and sculptures shine with the wonder of Western life. Their eyes look both within and without, searching for and capturing the soul of the land.