The Land Report

2019 TX

The Magazine of the American Landowner is an essential guide for investors, landowners, and those interested in buying or selling land. The award-winning quarterly is known for its annual survey of America's largest landowners, The Land Report 100.

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Page 65 of 99

at first piece, called Rough String Makings, ended up going to the East Coast. A Western Horseman profile on T.D. caught the attention of a Brooklyn- based collector, and it immediately sold. roughout the 1970s, Sidni encour- aged T.D. to draw, paint, and sculpt, as he continued to ranch and fly for United. In 1971, he and his partner and ranching mentor, Minford Beard, under a con- tract with Uncle Sam, began chasing and catching wild horses in the rough country along the Colorado-Utah border and sell- ing them to eager buyers. Every winter for 25 years, the two men caught yearlings to control herd population and rotated studs to minimize inbreeding. "I was obsessed with wild horses," T.D. says. "So much so that I probably wasn't very pleasant to be around." Despite a full-time job as a pilot and obsessions with ranching and wild horses, he continued to develop as an artist and produce works for a growing number of collectors. At Sidni's urging, T.D. quit flying in 1979. "United Airlines was so good to me, but I grew bored. e day came when I realized that I got a lot more excited walking into my studio than sitting down in the cockpit of a 727," he said. Says T.D., "It sounded like a physi- cal fitness test, so I worked like hell to get into shape. But it turned out to be a test of spatial ability. I must've passed because they said, 'Come on.'" But he couldn't, not just yet. He wasn't 21. Finally, many moons after his uncle first taught him to fly, T.D. enrolled in flight school. He checked out in a DC-6. His first route was San Francisco to Sac- ramento, Ely, Elko, Salt Lake City, and Reno. "We didn't night over anywhere," he says. "ose were long days." His workday didn't get any shorter when he moved up to 727s in 1969. He wanted to quit flying and become a full-time rancher and artist, but United convinced him to take a leave of absence. He and Sidni were on track to buy a ranch in North Dakota, but title issues nixed the deal. ey ended up buying a ranch in Kiowa outside of Denver. He ranched during the day and flew 727s out of Denver's Stapleton Airport at night. One day, T.D. invited a United pilot named Ted Gobel to stop by his Kiowa ranch. Gobel happened to be a nephew of the legendary artist George Phippen, and during his visit, he remarked that his Aunt Louise would soon be visiting Denver and would love to see his work. Louise Phippen not only came to the ranch, but she insisted that T.D. sculpt a piece for her son to cast at his foundry. "You do something," she commanded. For once, T.D. did as he was told. "I ended up doing a sculpture of a guy snubbing a horse and took it down to Prescott, Arizona. Ernie Phippen cast it in red bronze. We did it the old way. We put the wax in it, put the pins in it, poured a core, built an oven around it, burned the wax away, tore the oven down, shored up the shell, built up the oven again, and then poured the bronze in," he says. Ernie Phippen also cast T.D.'s next two pieces – a cowboy throwing a loop known as the Johnny Blocker, and a bucking horse. "Horses, of course. Always horses in those days," T.D. says. It took a few years for the momen- tum to build, but in 1985, T.D.'s career as an artist took off. e catalyst was a donation that Sidni and he made to the City of Fort Worth. Cast in 900 sections, Texas Gold is a monumental sculpture of longhorn cattle that has welcomed millions of visitors to the Fort Worth Stockyards in the decades since. at very same year, T.D.'s brutal workload caught up with him; he suf- fered a severe heart attack that almost took his life. Angioplasty saved him. Sidni insisted that he work less and have more fun. As soon as he returned to fighting form, T.D. loaded up a backpack and trekked into the woods where he rediscovered his love of hunting. "When I was a young man, I started noticing trash left by hunters in the backcountry. It disgusted me so that I turned away from hunting for the better part of two decades. ose backpacking trips revived my interest in hunting, hik- ing, and wildlife. I've made several trips above 15,000 feet with no problems." T.D.'s new lease on life also led to an increased interest in wildlife sculpture. Monumental works like Swamp Donkey, which was purchased by Tom and Mer- edith Brokaw, and Testing the Air, which was acquired by e National Museum of Wildlife Art, joined bronzes of mus- tangs, cowboys, and longhorns. With Sidni's encouragement, trips to Africa soon followed. "I've always read every book on Africa I could get my hands on. Sidni insisted I borrow the money and go," he says. What started as a four-day trip to Zimbabwe turned into a 30-year love affair with Africa. "My guide and I became great friends. He got me to a phone, and I called Sidni and said, 'Get over here!' She flew over, and on the way to get her, our Range Rover broke down. We were five hours late picking her up at the tiny bush air- port. I was worried to death, but there she was, sitting beneath a tree, waiting for us. She fell in love with Africa. We made every trip together from then on." WHERE EUROPE MEETS ASIA T.D. journeyed to the Caucasus Mountains to study the tur, a hardy high-altitude goat-antelope. 64 L ANDREP ORT.COM e LandReport | TEX AS 20 19

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