“All my bronzes tell a story,” said Jay Contway as he sculpted his piece, titled One-eyed Charlie Brewster Throwing the Houlihan. While smoothing the clay, he explained the inspiration for the piece – a figure from his past who was an expert at roping steer and only had one eye. This personal connection to the piece is evident in Contway’s attention to detail. As with all of his bronzes, it is obvious that he had a deep familiarity with his subject matter and a passion for bringing his artwork to life.
Perhaps the reason that Jay Contway’s Western artwork was so successful is because Jay Contway had lived a very Western life. Growing up on a homestead near Malta, he helped his family raise horses, cattle, and sheep. (This familiarity with horses and livestock would allowed him to accurately depict animals in paintings and sculptures early on.) Later in life, after Contway had become a full-time artist, he decided to go back to his roots and raise horses with his wife, Lynn. They did this for many years, holding an annual horse auction at their home on the outskirts of Great Falls.
The Contways have been through many changes since then. They have not owned horses for several years now. This was a major adjustment for Jay as he had to set up a new studio and no longer had his own foundry for casting bronze. He entrusted his artwork to three foundries around the state. “They’re all very good, just not as convenient as having one on your own property,” commented Lynn Contway.
Despite not being able to cast his own bronzes and working from a smaller studio, Jay Contway was still hard at work producing masterful Western artwork. Once again, Lynn will be displaying his bronzes at the Jay Contway and Friends Art Show at the Hilton Garden Inn during Great Falls’ Western Art Week. There will also be a booth at the Civic Center as part of the Russell Auction’s Skull Society, an elite group of Western artists. All are encouraged to come out and view Jay Contway’s magnificent Western art. Every bronze tells a story; perhaps one of these stories will speak to you.