It’s a brisk Sunday morning as I leave Jackson Hole, Wyoming to cross through Togwotee Pass headed for a Ranch 35 minutes outside Dubois. The landscape begins to shift, high desert colors of reds and oranges spilling over canyons and basins dusted in snow. The Wind River Range rises from the river itself, fall shifting into winter as my truck reaches the outskirts of the town of Dubois. A cowboys version of city life, Dubois, population 975, is the nearest town for ranchers in the area and native peoples living on the nearby reservation. I slowed at the town museum, looking at the life-sized bronze cowboy sculpture, one of many of John Finley’s fixtures in town. As I turn to head back out of Dubois I stop for a coffee at The Perch, a local coffee house, and head on through town. A few miles out of town, I turn onto a dirt road, winding past ranches and onto the Duncan Bench. Following the bench for miles, a driveway marked by an old barrel indicates I’ve made it to the Finley ranch. For over 100 years, John Finley’s family has homesteaded on this land, ranching and guiding big game hunts, dabbling as artists. After John’s father sold a portion of the land years ago, John had the opportunity to pursue a dual career as a cowboy & artist. Today, John may be equally well known as Wyoming’s Cowboy artist, creating sculpture, children’s books, watercolor paintings, acrylic paintings on wasp nest paper, custom jewelry, and scrimshaw.
John and his wife, Monie, invited me to join them on their ranch for an afternoon & chili dinner. We chatted about the ranches history, John’s upbringing and schooling on the original homestead, their lives together & the incredible art John creates.